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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.