I picked up from Mashable the Pope’s message of three days ago encouraging and urging Catholic priests to use the digital realm and especially social media as tools for the Gospel. His whole message is here. I just thought I’d pick out one of two things I liked about Benedict’s approach:
Firstly, in addition to all the language of ‘proclamation’ and ‘catechesis’, he talks about ‘dialogue’ and being ‘faithful witnesses’. It seems to me these are important approaches on the web, especially in the social media. They are digital conversation tools more than digital proclamation tools. Within that, he sees the opportunity for the use of ancient wisdom.
Secondly, there was an image that I think builds helpfully on that attitude. Near the end he says,
Just as the prophet Isaiah envisioned a house of prayer for all peoples (cf. Is 56:7), can we not see the web as also offering a space – like the “Court of the Gentiles” of the Temple of Jerusalem – for those who have not yet come to know God?
I like that idea. Jesus was so taken with the ‘Court of the Gentiles’ that he defended it against the moneychangers.
With all this, the Pope brings a healthy Christian ethic to the Internet and social media. Elsewhere, he says:
In my Message last year, I encouraged leaders in the world of communications to promote a culture of respect for the dignity and value of the human person. This is one of the ways in which the Church is called to exercise a “diaconia of culture” on today’s “digital continent”.
Again, all good stuff. He calls for competence and spirituality to go hand in hand, the latter leading the former, for he calls priests
to use these technologies in a competent and appropriate way, shaped by sound theological insights and reflecting a strong priestly spirituality grounded in constant dialogue with the Lord.
OK, as a ‘Protestant’ I’d express it slightly differently, but the core point would be the same.
So a big thumbs-up from me to Benedict XVI today. Let’s hope other Christian traditions can be as positive as he is.
Being the dominant religion of the world, in terms of numbers, the Catholics’ (and I’m married to one) approach to this issue is welcome. Pope Benedict was received, mostly, warmly in Australia during World Youth Day last July and I particularly noticed his gentleness with people. Good one, Benny.
Nice to read that, Pam.
I totally agree. I was so impressed with how the Pope integrated theology and web practices — I felt edified as I read it! I shared some of my thoughts here:
Thanks, Ryan. I like your piece, too. I had to dash mine off quickly, so let me commend anyone else reading this post to head over and read yours as well.