The Catholic Church has always been in the forefront of using communications media for mission and ministry. Pope Paul VI wrote in On Evangelization in the Modern World, “The Church would feel guilty before the Lord if she did not use these powerful means [of social communication] that human skill is daily rendering more perfect. It is through them that she proclaims “from the housetops” the message of which she is the depository.” We agree that this is important–but we have the ever-present challenges of time and money (not enough of either).
Time and money are always about priorities. If we really think something is important, we find the time and money—not always overnight, but we work at it, we engage others in the cause and eventually we achieve our goal. That’s how we built our churches, our schools, and other institutions. Now we have a new infrastructure to build—an infrastructure that will also support our mission and ministry.
A pastoral presence in the world of digital communications, precisely because it brings us into contact with the followers of other religions, non-believers and people of every culture, requires sensitivity to those who do not believe, the disheartened and those who have a deep, unarticulated desire for enduring truth and the absolute. 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? Benedict XVI Message for World Communications Day, May 16, 2010.
We must restructure our ministry around the new realities of the digital age. We start by asking ourselves how we can use technology to communicate with all of the groups we are called to serve, including those who are in church on Sunday as well as those who are not there. We can bring creativity to our efforts. We can learn from people who are using technology now. We will learn from our mistakes. Yes, we will make mistakes, but that is better than fading into irrelevance. The more people are interacting with and within our community, the more likely membership will grow, the more likely mission will flourish.
Today, people often choose to interact over the Internet—we need to be there with and for them, offering faith, hope, love; guidance, truth, and support. We also want to take in their feedback, questions, ideas, joys, sorrows, hopes and aspirations. It is a challenge, but we are up to it.
What does it mean to you to see the Church using new technologies as one way to bring people to Christ? Please share your answer in the comment section below. Thank you.