I would like then to invite Christians, confidently and with an informed and responsible creativity, to join the network of relationships which the digital era has made possible… The web is contributing to the development of new and more complex intellectual and spiritual horizons, new forms of shared awareness. In this field too we are called to proclaim our faith that Christ is God, the Savior of humanity and of history, the one in whom all things find their fulfillment (cf. Eph 1:10).
The Holy Father’s message is rich with insight, realism and apostolic urgency. In the very first paragraph, he states that
The new technologies are not only changing the way we communicate, but communication itself…
While many people recognize the truth of this statement, those of us in ministry must ask ourselves—how have the new technologies changed the way we communicate, changed the expectations of the people we serve, given us access to those who are not in church, who do not know Christ, who are seeking for truth?
Communication is at the heart of ministry. The good communicator/minister understands and attends to the audience; establishes a rapport, speaks in their language, responds to their needs, leads them to new meaning. Today, the pre-internet audience is shrinking and the post-internet audience is growing. Is that shift evident in the way we carry out our ministry?
We agree with the Holy Father that
Direct human relations always remain fundamental for the transmission of the faith!
Our challenge is to find new ways of initial and ongoing contact. Many people who are no longer in the church or never practiced faith, or who have questions and want to learn more about Christ, are not where we are (Mass, Catholic schools, religious education programs, adult faith formation sessions, etc.), but they are on the Internet. We need to be there, too. Many of our active Catholics are seeking to connect with other believers on the Internet to learn, to discuss and to grow in their faith. We need to be there for them as well.
In this message, entitled Truth, Proclamation and Authenticity of Life in the Digital Age, Pope Benedict stresses that
Believers who bear witness to their most profound convictions greatly help prevent the web from becoming an instrument which depersonalizes people, attempts to manipulate them emotionally or allows those who are powerful to monopolize the opinions of others.
Believers must be present on the web as true and authentic witnesses and teachers. That requires integrity, conviction and commitment of time and resources.
This message is an invitation and a challenge to all of us who minister to God’s people to update our methods of communication in ministry. How do we respond?
Read the full text of Truth, Proclamation and Authenticity of Life in the Digital Age.