The Pope says Happy Birthday to The Canon's Stall - well, sort of
Yesterday marked the first anniversary of my blog. By coincidence, Pope Benedict also issued his annual Message for World Communications Day... or was it a coincidence??... This is the Vatican press release:
The message of Pope Benedict XVI for this year’s World Communications Day is a consideration of the evangelization of the "digital continent". The world of digital communication, with its almost limitless expressive capacity, makes us appreciate all the more Saint Paul’s exclamation: "Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel" (1 Cor 9:16) 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 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.
Priests are invited to appreciate the great potential of the new technologies to make known the Good News of God’s love for all people more widely and more directly to ever greater numbers and across all types of boundaries. It is possible, using the new technologies to reach new audiences; to invite them to a consideration of the fundamental questions concerning the meaning and purpose of life and to offer to them the great wisdom of our tradition. This is a message of encouragement for all priests; not just those who are technically proficient or media specialists.
The priest is invited to be present in the digital world precisely as a priest, "as a man of God". "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." If the priest is to be an effective communicator of the Gospel in the digital environment, as in any other forum, he must be a man of the Gospel. The communicative efforts of the priest must be born from his own profound listening to, and meditation on, the Word of God. Priests are to be present as "faithful witnesses to the Gospel"; their use of new media should reflect "a strong priestly spirituality grounded in constant dialogue with the Lord" and the task should be undertaken "with the Gospels in our hands and in our hearts".
Pope Benedict lists some of the new resources (images, videos, animated features, blogs, websites) that can be employed by priests to proclaim the Gospel and he insists they be used in a competent and appropriate way. His message takes for granted the need for the formation of priests in the skillful use of the new technologies, but his primary concern is to ensure that they are used in ways that promote the Gospel and offer hope to all... The Pope invites priests, and by implication all believers, to use the web to create a space of dialogue where Christians, believers of other religions and non-believers can encounter each other in a respectful search for truth and wisdom. If all those who partake feel free to bring their deepest convictions and beliefs to this dialogue, it will help to give a "soul" to the fabric of communications that makes up the Web.