Problem: Catholic Bishops in general today know as much about most social issues – in this case the internet and social networking – as they did about astronomy in the 16th century.
With that in mind… a note from the USCCB plenary:
Go forth and blog, tweet and post, US Catholic bishops told
(AFP) – 16 hours ago
WASHINGTON — Roman Catholic bishops in the United States should go forth and blog, tweet and preach on the “new digital continent” of social media, a church leader said Monday. [Interesting idea.]
“The church does not have to change its teachings to reach young people, but we must deliver it to them in a new way,” Bishop Ronald Herzog told the general assembly meeting of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in Baltimore.
“If the church is not on their mobile device, it doesn?t exist,” he said, likening social media to a “new digital continent” waiting to be evangelized. [Well... tress fall in forests, too. But, we should ask which Church would be on their mobile. What would be a Catholic content on their mobile devices were bishops involved?]
The biggest handicap facing the church is that many members of the clergy don’t understand the culture of the unexplored continent and might even fear confrontation with the natives, he said. [I could deliver a workshop or two on that score.]
On the digital continent, “Anyone can create a blog. Everyone’s opinion is valid. And if a question or contradiction is posted, the digital natives (bloggers) expect a response and something resembling a conversation,” Herzog said. [There is at work in blogs that allow a lot of interaction something like a Reverse Gresham's Law. You have to be able to back yourself up if you are going to make a claim. This is why liberal Catholic blogs don't get much traction.]
“We can choose not to enter into that cultural mindset, but we do so at great peril to the church’s credibility and approachability in the minds of the natives, those who are growing up in this new culture.”
Ignoring social media could have a similar impact on the church as another communications revolution did back in the 1500s, said Herzog.
Social media “is causing as fundamental a shift in communication patterns and behavior as the printing press did 500 years ago. And I don’t think I have to remind you of what happened when the Catholic church was slow to adapt to that new technology,” he told the gathering of Catholic bishops.
The printing press was a driving force behind the Reformation in the 16th and early 17th centuries, which saw a schism in the Roman Catholic church and the establishment of Protestantism as a branch of Christianity.
Though the Roman Catholic church isn’t usually associated with social networks, the church, Pope Benedict XVI and individual clergy members are on digital media including Facebook and Twitter.
News: the internet has been around for a while now.
There are a lot of priests and Catholic laypeople involved in the Catholic blogosphere. I have not seen much engagement with them so far. If you were to draw up a list of “digital natives” who might have a few things to say, I think you might have to include my name, and those of a few of my fellow travelers. Some of us have been involved with the internet for a long time.
I am glad that the bishops have heard the words “I-N-T-E-R-N-E-T” and “B-L-O-G” mentioned at their meeting.
I’m really glad.