Archbp. Celli on ‘pastoral conversion’ on new media. Fr. Z rants.

From CNA comes this, with my emphases.

Vatican official calls for ‘pastoral conversion’ on new media

Vatican City, Oct 15, 2010 / 09:51 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Church must intensify its presence in today’s “digital culture,” Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, told Church leaders Oct. 15.

Addressing bishops gathered for the special month-long meeting on the Church’s future in the Middle East, Archbishop Celli said traditional communications methods — radio, television, and print — are no longer sufficient for the Church’s mission.

The archbishop called for “a pastoral conversion.” He said the Church must rise to the challenge of finding new ways to communicate the faith.

We cannot continue to speak in our categories to a population that is increasingly distant from them,” he said. This does not mean, he said, “running after the latest technology.” Instead it means “understanding the categories of the other and using them.”

[…]

He called for Church workers to be better trained in the use of new media. Training for seminarians is “urgent,” he said.

[…]

In addition to formation of lay pastoral agents, he said that seminary formation is “urgent.” For seminarians, he said, the question is not so much about technology, but in regard to “communication, communion in this rapidly developing culture.

“Without priests – and then without bishops – who understand modern culture, there will still be a communications divide which will not favor the transmission of the faith to the young in the Church.”

Training for seminarians.  I am all for that.

They don’t need training in how to use the tools of communication, however.  Seminarians need to train older priests and bishops.

Archbishop Celli speaks about learning how to communicate the truths of the Faith to others who work in different categories.  I agree.  If you try to speak in, say, Chinese to an Italian, you will get a blank stare.  Moreover, if you try to speak “tech” to someone over a certain age, you will probably get an equally blank stare.  Speak in “Catholic” to Joe Bagodonuts, or even Joe and Mary Catholic in the pews of most parishes today, and you will get a blank stare.

There’s some grist for the New Evangelization.  Come to think of it, if the New Evagelization is about recovering that which was traditionally Christian and Catholic, then there should be, as part of an effort of New Evangelization, first and foremost, an effort to recover fallen away Catholics.   And for them, speaking in truly Catholic terms might work pretty well.

Now think about Ecumenism, keeping in mind that the true goal of Ecumenism is to present such a good argument by reason and example that people will be compelled by their own desire and volition to enter the Catholic Church formally.

Back to the seminarian thing.  Let’s look at this through the ad intra and ad extra lens.

Perhaps the best way to start would be a propaedeutic year in which seminarians do little else than study Latin and Greek, learn to serve Holy Mass and other services in both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Form in every role, sing Gregorian chant and polyphony, and study the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Baltimore Catechism (with some measure of memorization).  They can test out, of course.  We are flexible.  There should be increasingly challenging writing projects, so that they will learn to put together thoughts in English.  Let them have frequent though brief speaking gigs wherein they must stand up and read a piece, speak off the cuff, or recite something in front of others, even if it a Shakespeare sonnet.

In order to be able to communicate the Faith to anyone outside the Church (ad extra), they have to know it and be able to articulate it within the Church (ad intra).

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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5 Responses to Archbp. Celli on ‘pastoral conversion’ on new media. Fr. Z rants.

  1. Henry Edwards says:

    Perhaps the best way to start would be a propaedeutic year in which seminarians do little else than study Latin and Greek, learn to serve Holy Mass and other services in both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Form in every role, sing Gregorian chant and polyphony, . . .

    Sounds about like the list of activities–except learning only the low Mass (sans OF) in the first year (high Mass saved for the second year)–that I heard recently from a young man describing his first year in a traditional seminary. Not having recently heard a similar description from an ordinary diocesan seminarian, I’m not sure how it would differ. Maybe one can tell us.

  2. Tradster says:

    Dear Father,
    If all the Vatican is calling for is another flavor of EWTN then they may as well abandon the idea right now. You are absolutely correct that the core issue is not the media but the message. The Powers That Be need to relearn and start teaching the orthodox content of the Magisterium – and consistently across the communications spectrum: radio, Internet, television, newspapers, and yes, even from the pulpit.

    Sadly, though, the comment about the need to understand modern culture is not encouraging. It strikes me as the same mindset of “opening the windows for some fresh air” that led to Vatican II. When will the hierarchy stop trying to be relevant and return to being necessary?

  3. If the priest doesn’t understand modern culture at all, it makes it kinda hard to confess certain sins in a useful way. (And boy, is it not a treat to have to explain what sin you mean, and how you managed to commit it, and so on, and still have the priest look pretty puzzled afterward.) It’s a pastoral thing, not a “pretend you’re hip” thing.

    I’m sure that all you parents out there strive to know something about what kids are getting into, if only to be able to tell if your own kids are getting into trouble.

  4. Vox clamantis in deserto says:

    There’s some grist for the New Evangelization. Come to think of it, if the New Evagelization is about recovering that which was traditionally Christian and Catholic, then there should be, as part of an effort of New Evangelization, first and foremost, an effort to recover fallen away Catholics. And for them, speaking in truly Catholic terms might work pretty well.

    Yes, this is one of big problems. There will always be people who know (almost) nothing about Jesus, have prejudices against Catholics etc. It’s reasonable to start slowly with them. Very slowly. Maybe to take them to a trip to mountains. To invite them to play a football match. Even realizing that Catholics are “normal” can help.

    But this is just the very first step, and one can’t stop there (and, sadly, it is often a beginning and at the same time an end of “new evangelization”…just go slowly, it’s completely new for them, don’t be too demanding…more slowly…stop). And, in addition, there will always people which are familiar with “basics” and need something “more substantial”. One must speak to them, exactly as Father Z says, in truly Catholic terms.

    The evangelization (or whatever name we give it) must go simultaneously on all levels needed – from “beginners” to “advanced”. IMHO, today it concentrates too much on “beginners” and neglects “more advanced”.

  5. Joe in Canada says:

    I was told once by a superior that he was too busy to talk to me on the phone because he was preparing an email to send to me. Thanks for the pastoral. As far as priests and laity are concerned, if they don’t understand the Nicene Creed then nothing else matters.