Monday, January 23, 2012

Mondays with Verbum Domini

The word of God and the means of social communication

Linked to the relationship between the word of God and culture is the need for a careful and intelligent use of the communications media, both old and new. The Synod Fathers called for a proper knowledge of these media; they noted their rapid development and different levels of interaction, and asked for greater efforts to be made in gaining expertise in the various sectors involved, particularly in the new media, such as the internet. The Church already has a significant presence in the world of mass communications, and her magisterium has frequently intervened on the subject, beginning with the Second Vatican Council.[360] Discovering new methods of transmitting the Gospel message is part of the continuing evangelizing outreach of those who believe. Communications today take place through a worldwide network, and thus give new meaning to Christ’s words: “What I tell you in the dark, utter in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim upon the housetops” (Mt 10:27). God’s word should resound not only in the print media, but in other forms of communication as well. For this reason, together with the Synod Fathers, I express gratitude to those Catholics who are making serious efforts to promote a significant presence in the world of the media, and I ask for an ever wider and more qualified commitment in this regard.

Among the new forms of mass communication, nowadays we need to recognize the increased role of the internet, which represents a new forum for making the Gospel heard. Yet we also need to be aware that the virtual world will never be able to replace the real world, and that evangelization will be able to make use of the virtual world offered by the new media in order to create meaningful relationships only if it is able to offer the personal contact which remains indispensable. In the world of the internet, which enables billions of images to appear on millions of screens throughout the world, the face of Christ needs to be seen and his voice heard, for “if there is no room for Christ, there is no room for man”.
-Verbum Domini 113


Theophrastus said...

I struggled a lot with this paragraph, because the Pope has taken several different positions on the Internet over time. Even in his last major statement, I think that the Vatican expressed ambivalence.

The Holy See attracted controversy after it lifted the excommunication of Richard Williamson, the Holocaust-denying SSPX Bishop. When critics pointed out that a simple Google search should have revealed warning signs about Williamson, the Pope famously remarked, "In future at the Holy See, we must pay more attention to that source of news."

There has been considerable coverage in the Italian media over the Vatican's apparent cutting-and-pasting from Italian Wikipedia to provide biographies for 22 new Cardinals. As I try to understand how this could have happened, I have to come to the conclusion that even in the Vatican there is a difference among generations -- between younger people who are comfortable using the Internet and relying on Wikipedia -- and more senior scholars, including the Pope himself, who prefer to rely on more traditional sources of information.

Timothy said...


My feeling is that the Vatican recognizes the need to be engaged in the internet, but still has yet to have the right people leading the charge. With that being said, the Vatican does a far superior job compared to the many American dioceses and their websites. The Vatican has a ton of info on its site and has a presence on Youtube.