Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bloggers and Church should learn from each other...

"the Church has something to learn from bloggers"

Those are the words of Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications in an interview in the latest issue of L'Osservatore Romano online. 

As a blogger I appreciate this while at the same time feeling that there is so much more that the Church and bloggers can learn from each other.

Asked if interaction with bloggers could make communications in Vatican dicasteries more effective...

"I am absolutely convinced of this. On blogs there is open communication with up-to-date language. We still experience difficulty due to a certain type of ecclesial language that young people find hard to understand. Blogs are sites of authenticity and, at the same time, of provocation..."

There is a ring of truth to Catholic blogs and these two poles, if you can call them that.  Provocation can be negative, such as when someone offers authentic teaching, but puts it out there like a clanging cymbal or noisy going.  Bloggers must practice virtue, and before it can be practiced, it must be understood as it applies today. 

There can be positive forms of provocation, such as when something in popular culture is challenged as being contrary to the Gospel or Church teaching,  such as abortion, contraception, and co-habitation.  Also in a positive way, bloggers can provoke readers to think about the virtues and how they apply to life today. 

Is there something "the Vatican" can help bloggers with?


Continue to analyze the writings of bloggers and offer a continuous flow of encouragement to conform our evangelization and enthusiasm online to the Gospel.  It is not just what we offer in social media that matters, but how we offer it.  Do not confuse this with avoiding controversial topics. Controversial topics can be discussed, but the way we discuss these things should always be sharpened with the 10 Commandments and the virtues. 

I don't think it is enough to avoid grave matter online like detraction and calumny.  Similarly, I think few have a solid understanding of rash judgment (see all three of these in the CCC on the 8th Commandment).

I believe that we must also strive for perfection by learning about the virtues and how they apply to our online activities.  We need to talk about them to help others to see these things. 

These are not things that any of us can learn overnight.  It is a life long process.  It must be supported by a sound Sacramental life, with Sacramental Confession being a part of that process.  When we recognize that we have crossed some line - be it grave matter, or a matter of virtue, many graces can come to a blogger from the use of Confession, especially if you have access to a very virtuous priest. 

Virtue ought not be confused with orthodoxy.  One can be very orthodox in their undertanding of the faith, and have intimate knowledge of Church documents, Sacred Scripture, the writings of the Church Fathers and Doctors, and be entirely unvirtuous.   For example, we might be tempted to follow the example of popular pundits online who use a form of humor that crosses into mocking and ridicule.  What do the saints have to say about such things?  This we need to learn, and we should never dismiss their teachings as not relevant for today, or for the web.  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb 13:8).  We just need to apply those timeless teachings to social media.

I recommend Archbishop Vigneron's, "10 Rules for Handling Disagreement Like a Christian" as just one example of the kind of thing bloggers and others in social media could use help with from "the Vatican". 

There is really much more to say about all of this and it is worth a post series, so ... I will save it or another time.  After more than five years of blogging, many experiences have altered my approach.

For now, what comes to your mind about virtuous blogging? Let's keep specific names and organizations out of the discussion and keep it to general principles. 

Veil-tip: Catholic Culture

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