10/12/2012 12:42:00 PM How can social media help us meet Christ?
Catholic News Service photo
Bishop Ronald P. Herzog of Alexandria, La., talks about social media and the church during the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops annual fall meeting in Baltimore
We Catholics must learn to navigate the digital ocean. Pope Benedict calls attention to this particular topic, in the context of the Year of Faith, in his choice of the theme for the 47th World Communications Day, “Social Networks: portals of truth and faith; new spaces for evangelization."
Technology is the new context for relationships and knowledge. We need to ask: how can it help men and women meet Christ in faith? It's not enough to speak the language. We need to find ways to present the Gospel as the answer to that basic human yearning for meaning and faith, a yearning that has already found expression in the digital world.
It's not simply a question of how to use the internet for evangelization, but instead of how to evangelize in a world where people express their lives so much in the digital arena. In particular, church leaders tell us, we need to be attentive to the emergence and enormous popularity of social networks, which highlight dialogical and interactive forms of communication and relationships. It's a way of communicating that has little patience for lengthy and detailed treatments. Even though he walked the Earth millennia ago, Jesus gave us perfect examples of the kinds of teaching that will reach the digital era; like our master, we need to be crisp and compelling and story-based.
The church, with this approach, could help create a more dynamic and humane digital culture.
World Communications Day, the worldwide celebration called for by the Second Vatican Council, is celebrated in most countries, on the recommendation of the bishops of the world, on the Sunday before Pentecost — May 12 this year. The Holy Father is wise to focus on social media. We should all take up the call because our very evangelizing mission as a church could depend on it.