That I should do some blogging, in and amongst all the research, EMS Chaplaincy (I was recently promoted to District Chaplain) and Parish work.
Thanks for all the kind and generous e-mails of late, reminding me of the fact that there is a cyber audience (as well as many other friends out there) that do derive some benefit from the work being done here. From the blog stats self, it can be seen that there are still plenty of daily visits, despite the lull in blogging.
So, let’s see how it goes.
In the Catholic Herald today:
Pope Francis has said that the internet is “a gift from God” in his first World Communications Day message.
… Pope Francis said: “Media can help us greatly in this, especially nowadays, when the networks of human communication have made unprecedented advances.
“The internet, in particular, offers immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity. This is something truly good, a gift from God.”
… By means of the internet, the Christian message can reach “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Keeping the doors of our churches open also means keeping them open in the digital environment so that people, whatever their situation in life, can enter, and so that the Gospel can go out to reach everyone. We are called to show that the Church is the home of all…
The full text of Pope Francis’s message is here.
Time to get those heads out of the old dusty Churchmanship books… again.
It’s a post-website world, but you still need a website. A church website is still essential, but the primary ways your church will interact with people are through numerous streams of communication, including e-mail, texting, and social media. Some will find your church through its website, but more than likely, they’ll find it through a friend on Facebook or Twitter who recommends the church, points to a video or story on the church’s website, or some other form of word-of-mouth communication…
Too many Church leaders are only beginning to discover what the Internet really is, what it means, and how it is to be used in and for the cause of the Gospel.
So, for starters: Blog = Social Media.
Priests, blog (!)
Do not fear.
All God’s people: Go forth into the digital world and proclaim the good news!
On the eChurch Blog:
Last month Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill lamented Orthodox bloggers publicly insulting each other, which I can only imagine must be an Orthodox phenomenon as it doesn’t happen in Catholic or Protestant Internet circles:
…that the diversity of ideas inherent in church circles sometimes assumes absurd forms in the Internet environment.
“In the web space groups of church liberals and conservatives are appearing that are not looking for the truth, divine truth but a means of finding fault, stinging each other. This is a very sad tendency,” he said at a diocesan assembly in Moscow ahead of New Year.
He said that divisions and feuds within the church “are evidence of infantility, childishness in faith which sometimes assumes ruffian forms.”
It would now seem the good Patriarch is advocating the strategy of sowing wheat among the web-tares:
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia on Saturday lamented a high number of antichurch internet posts and said the Russian Orthodox Church he leads should be present in social networks to tell the truth to its audience.
“Blogs and social networks give us new opportunities for the Christian mission” at a time when the Church comes under attacks more often than before, the patriarch said. “Not to be present there means to display our helplessness and lack of care for the salvation of our brothers.”
“Now that social media shows a huge interest, although not always a sound one, in church life, our duty is to convert it for a good cause, to create conditions for young people to know about Christ, know the truth about the life of people inside the Church,” Patriarch Kirill said.
“When a person makes a query on church life in an internet search engine, he finds a lot of lies, hypocrisy and hatred,” the patriarch said at a meeting of the Russian Orthodox Church’s Bishops Council in downtown Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral.
“These are the visible results of activity by the enemy of mankind,” he said.
This of course comes hot on the heals of the superb address given by the Pope on social media, which I think can be summed up as follows:
“Go into all the digital world and preach the good news to all creation.” (Mark 16:15 with slight modification)
Interesting in that the Patriarch and the Pope are of the greatest Christian spiritual leaders of our time, and they have seen and identified the potential of social media for the good; unlike others who would simply suppress and basically wish away social media in its various forms like the blogs. Perhaps it is time to elevate our thinking and realise the ‘new opportunities for the Christian mission’, and not simply sit around with our heads buried in some dusty old liturgical books. The cause of Christ and his Gospel must be furthered. There are souls to be saved. And the Church should be making good use of the opportunity for building platforms of social influence that extend well beyond the four walls of the Sunday experience.
Pope Benedict’s mass of 2.5 million followers in eight languages during his first month on Twitter has one Vatican priest calling the pontiff’s online presence “a new frontier” of evangelization.
Father Paolo Padrini, a collaborator of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, said it is good that the Pope has so many followers, but it even more important that the Pope “seeks to co-exist and share on Twitter.”
“Being present in social media is evangelizing, if just for the fact that he is present with his words,” he told CNA Jan. 11.
“It’s a great joy to see the Pope’s words being disseminated, a joy that is held by all believers.”
Twitter is a social media service that allows users to send out 140-character messages, called “tweets,” to other users who follow their accounts. Followers and others may then share these tweets with their own followers with a “re-tweet.”
The Pope’s first tweet on his personal account went out on Dec. 12, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Over 64,000 people retweeted his introductory message on his English-language account “Pontifex,” while over 33,000 did so for his Spanish-language account “Pontifex_es.”
As of Jan. 11, he has sent out only 21 tweets. He has shared his favorite memory of Christmas, asked for prayers for an end to the Syria conflict and exhorted others to look to Jesus Christ.
“Following Christ’s example, we have to learn to give ourselves completely,” the Pope said on Twitter Jan. 9. “Anything else is not enough.”
Anyone on Twitter may interact with any other user. Those who have replied to the Pope range from the devout, the appreciative and the inquisitive to the flippant, irreverent and even obscene.
The Pope’s followers are numerous indeed. His English-language account has over 1.4 million subscribers, his Spanish-language account has 575,000 and his Italian-language account has 265,000.
His tweets also go out in French, German, Polish, Portuguese and Arabic. His Arabic-language account is the least popular but still has a respectable 18,000 followers.
By comparison, President Barack Obama has acquired 25 million followers in almost five years. The Dalai Lama has about six million followers on Twitter…
The Pope’s Twitter following quickly surpassed Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, who has 72,000 followers.
Claire Diaz Ortiz, Manager of Social Innovation at Twitter, said the company is “thrilled” any time a leader joins their network to connect with his or her followers.
“For the Pope, the decision will be a way for him to better connect his flock of 1.2 billion. That many of those interactions can now take place on Twitter is an inspiring fact for believers everywhere,” she told CNA Jan. 11.
She said that the company has seen a wide range of spiritual leaders form large followings on Twitter.
“Many religious leaders have embraced Twitter to minister to their community, listen to their concerns and share meaningful content,” she said.
Diaz said the Pope’s Twitter debut showed an “incredible emphasis” on internationalization…
Fr. Padrini, who has developed and implemented pontifical council communications initiatives like the website pope2you.net and the iPhone app iBreviary, said that he thinks the Pope’s success on Twitter is “major.”
“It has really warmed my heart. It’s a beautiful thing. But I didn’t have any doubt in my mind that it would be successful,” he said.
Judging from what he has read and heard in informal conversations, he thinks the Pontifical Council for Social Communications must be “very happy” that Pope Benedict’s communications are “more widespread than ever thanks to social media.”
The priest was optimistic about Twitter as a medium, even though little can be said in a single tweet.
“One hundred and forty characters are few but the number of years of Jesus on earth were also few,” he said. “The important thing is to be present and to do so with quality.”
Fr. Padrini added that the Pope has helped inspire others on the internet.
“I feel that because of the Pope’s presence online, all of the work of all of us who work in evangelization online is also valued.”