As a United Methodist, I am not in the habit of paying a great deal of attention to documents or proclamations from the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. However, at the end of January, I read Pope’s Message to Priests: We Must Blog. This was an article on Mashable in which I found the link that directed to the Message of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI for the 44th World Communications Day – “The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in a Digital World: New Media at the Service of the Word”. I also found the address from the previous year, “New Technologies, New Relationships. Promoting a Culture of Respect Dialogue and Friendship.” I commend all three articles to you.
As Pastor of Resurrection Online, I found encouragement from the words that I read. Here is an excerpt from the text:
The increased availability of the new technologies demands greater responsibility on the part of those called to proclaim the Word, but it also requires them to become become more focused, efficient and compelling in their efforts. Priests stand at the threshold of a new era: as new technologies create deeper forms of relationship across greater distances, they are called to respond pastorally by putting the media ever more effectively at the service of the Word.
The spread of multimedia communications and its rich “menu of options” might make us think it sufficient simply to be present on the Web, or to see it only as a space to be filled. Yet priests can rightly be expected to be present in the world of digital communications as faithful witnesses to the Gospel, exercising their proper role as leaders of communities which increasingly express themselves with the different “voices” provided by the digital marketplace. Priests are thus challenged to proclaim the Gospel by employing the latest generation of audiovisual resources (images, videos, animated features, blogs, websites) which, alongside traditional means, can open up broad new vistas for dialogue, evangelization and catechesis.
Using new communication technologies, priests can introduce people to the life of the Church and help our contemporaries to discover the face of Christ. They will best achieve this aim if they learn, from the time of their formation, how 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. Yet priests present in the world of digital communications should be less notable for their media savvy than for their priestly heart, their closeness to Christ. This will not only enliven their pastoral outreach, but also will give a “soul” to the fabric of communications that makes up the “Web”.”
I hope that Resurrection Online will be a faithful expression of The United Methodist Church and that I would live up to the encouragement from Pope Benedict XVI to be known more by my heart and closeness to Christ than by my media savvy.