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Catholic bloggers of the world, unite!

You have nothing to lose by accepting the Vatican’s invitation to talk

By on Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Catholic bloggers of the world, unite!

The Pope has urged the faithful to use social media and the internet in the service of Christ, but an inherent suspicion of Web 2.0 lingers in the Vatican. Behind the scenes the debate still rages: are blogs and the social media a good thing or do they represent a rupture in the communion of the Church? For many in the Curia (and in the local Church), blogging is a dirty word. In this view, bloggers are troublemakers, offering an alternative Magisterium and undermining their authority.

Take, for example, Richard Rouse of the Pontifical Council for Culture who recently told Vatican Radio: “One of the things we are a little bit aware of is that sometimes the Catholic blogosphere can become a bit of a ghetto … rather than engaging in the world outside.”

Anyone familiar with the lively (and, yes, sometimes rowdy) Catholic blogosphere knows that the some blogs offer an excellent example to Catholics of how to evangelise and engage in apologetics, while others are strong sources of news, analysis and criticism given in charity. They provide a sense of community and communion.

Thanks to the efforts of both bloggers and members of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, on May 2 the Vatican is hosting a new media conference, which it has opened up to bloggers. There are spaces for 150 bloggers who can apply by emailing blogmeet@pccs.it.

So even if it seems a bit grudging, last-minute and small in size, Catholic bloggers should welcome this opportunity to change hearts and minds about blogs. Already there are rumblings which simply bolster the arguments of those who think that bloggers are marginal troublemakers not interested in serving the communion of the Church.

Catholic bloggers have a unique opportunity to show that they are wrong.

  • http://www.benedictinenuns.org.uk Digitalnun

    I think this conference is a good idea, even if, as you say, a bit belated and small in scope; but I do wonder whether the organizers will open it up to those who cannot attend in person by offering a livestream on the web, etc. The Vatican seems to be constantly playing catch-up in the world of internet communication; or am I being unjust?

  • Anna

    Some one said at a new media study day I went to a few weeks ago that this is the first communications revolution the Church hasn’t been on the forefront of– Wired declared the death of the blog some months ago–and then the Vatican hosts a blogging conference. That said, I think it’s a good thing for it to be engaging with blogs and maybe this is the chance to catch up. As you say, hope it will be livestreamed.

  • Ciaopdale.

    The use of social media has developed to such an extent in the last few years that the Church will be left behind if it doesn’t make use of the same. Yes there are positives and negatives, but I suspect that the former outweigh the latter.

  • Anthony Murphy

    I share the reservations to be honest. I have witnessed extremism on many online fora. I dont mean the friendly jousting, and robust debate that sometimes happens. I mean the marginal views presented as mainstream, and essential to my salvation. To be honest, I know enough theology by now to realise I had to leave Karl Keatings “Catholic Answers”; it simply had not much positive to balance the race for a more and more extreme position of the contributers. One might speculate it has improved since they employed genuine people who knew something, but as I cast my eyes over the subject list at times when I get the email, I am often aghast by the scrupulosity that permeates it. Now I am not writing to give Keating a hard time, he allows a reasonably free rein for his commentors. However, one has to be curious of such influence without the magisterium (I mean the living magisterium here) as contributors. Often in the Catholic blogosphere we hear about marvelous “apologists”. And what is the qualification for being an apologian? Windows XP.
    I share deep reservations about the Catholic blogosphere. I am wondering if it isnt a loose cannon on deck to be honest.

  • Dorothy Cumming McLean

    The Pontifical Council of Social Communications had an absolutely brilliant idea, and some Catholic bloggers have borrowed it to host their own Roman blognic on May 3 and chat. Like so many other Catholic bloggers, I’d love to be invited to the official May 2 blognic, but as yet I’ve been invited only to the Catholic bloggers’ own May 3 blognic. That’s good enough for me. It’s about time someone came up with the idea of calling Catholic bloggers together, so kudos to the Pontifical Council for having the idea first.

    Some note that only 150 bloggers will be invited to the May 2 blognic and that the Vatican’s blognic is open, not just to Catholic bloggers, but to ALL bloggers. Thus, any given Catholic blogger has only a small chance to be invited and less than three weeks to prepare if she or he is indeed invited.

    Bloggers being bloggera, there is of course some hilarity around both events, but the May 3 blognic is by no means a rival to the May 2 blognic, which anyone at the May 3 blognic would give their eye teeth to attend. Hopefully there will be some overlap, especially as some of the most popular English-language bloggers will be at the May 3 meeting.

    The deep nastiness to be found on blogs is not usually written by Catholic bloggers themselves but by untraceable people in the comments boxes. As a group, bloggers are intensely wedded to free speech, but I think one thing we Catholic bloggers might discuss together is a responsibility to police our comments boxes. I’ll have the opportunity to say so at the Scholar’s Pub, Rome on May 3.

    So congratulations to the Vatican on their very good idea, and I wish all bloggers invited to it and happy and fruitful afternoon, and hope they will come to the May 3 event and tell us all about it.

  • Dorothy Cummings McLean

    Sorry for my misspellings, including of my name!

  • http://profiles.google.com/jakobsprenger Laramie Stewart

    You think Karl Keating is extreme? Wow. Karl’s Holy Grail is “moderation”.

  • http://twitter.com/ESherwell Emmanuel Sherwell

    No tienes nada que perder aceptando la invitación del Vaticano a hablar.

  • Anthony Murphy

    No, I dont think it is Karl who is extreme…I think it is his website that is the locus for extreme views; and they have them in spades. Caste your eye over the moral theology section over there…

  • Anonymous

    …and by extreme you mean awkwardly, ‘insensitively’, unswervingly orthodox? And no I’m not referring to the anti-Papal rants of SSPX-types or the more vitriolic donatistic Catholic Truth Scotland protests – I’m talking about those who think calling oneself a Catholic also demands being a Catholic – and saying so!

  • Anthony Murphy

    No Paul, I dont mean that.

  • Anthony Murphy

    OK…so the bishops need to know where their people are interneting, and get there. And come and chat with us. Enough of the platitudes, I want to see his grace in Catholic chat 1

  • P Dana59

    Dorothy,

    Could you please tell us who’s initiative is this meeting on the 3rd May? Does have any structure of discussions?
    Is this http://maps.google.ro/maps/place?client=safari&rls=en&oe=UTF-8&redir_esc=&um=1&ie=UTF-8&q=Scholar's+Pub,+Rome&fb=1&gl=ro&hq=Scholar's+Pub,&hnear=Rome,+Italy&cid=14066085075972215977 the meeting place ?
    Thank you!

  • Kervin

    Amazing! Our web site was selected by the Vatican.
    http://www.tucristo.com

    Blessings!
    Kervin Frometa

  • A lay-person.

    I think every Catholic blogger is entitled to convey his/her vision on all things religious in the manner that he/she deems most appropriate. How bloggers can represent a rupture in the Communion of the Church is obscure to me. A Catholic blogger is first and foremost a Catholic, whether he/she be a lay-person or a full member of the Church, a Catholic with a sound knowledge of Theology.
    The problem with all religions, particularly Catholicism, in my view, nowadays is more to do with communication, which is in turn deeply intertwined with translating the principles which the worship is based on into languages of the soul that are easily understandable by as wide a range of people as possible. God is reaching at us all the time, and it’s not always that everybody is fully aware of His presence and love for us. Therefore, on account of their background and histories, many people simply overlook that treasure which is faith, that could bring light to their lives and those of their families, simply because they haven’t yet found anybody who embodies the message of Christ and broaches it in a way that appropriately fits into their lives.
    I yearn to see the world of Catholic bloggers develop even further, as they have the key to an evangelization which stretches far beyond that of the clergy, as their languages are, more often than not, spoken by the widest variety of human beings.
    The Conference at the Vatican is testament to the will of the Church to integrate the bloggers’ community more into the pulsating heart of its inner workings.

  • Janet_baker76

    “one has to be curious of such influence without the magisterium (I mean the living magisterium here) as contributors”

    The Magisterium is in hiding since Vatican II compromised its definition by collegiality. The Holy Father, supreme authority of the Church, is following a faux-law, that he cannot act without the consent of all, a kind of democracy.

    So the brand Catholic is in-play. Look at the extremes. There can’t be unity of bloggers until Vatican II is fixed.