Vatican Stresses Importance of Catholic Bloggers

Priest Calls for More Web Pastors

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 4, 2011 ( On Monday two Vatican dicasteries organized a meeting of bloggers, emphasizing the need to dialogue with those who express the «public opinion of the Church.»

The meeting, organized by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and the Pontifical Council for Culture, brought together 150 bloggers who were chosen from hundreds of applicants.

As soon as they were seated, virtually all of them opened their laptops or took out their mobile phones to connect to the Internet.

During the meeting, the discussions transmitted on Facebook and Twitter were very intense.

Hence, it was both a physical and virtual meeting, allowing 750 other registered bloggers, unable to participate because of a lack of space, to follow the proceedings up close.

The meeting was to be extremely open, as the president of Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, said at the beginning of the session.

Respectful dialogue

He specified that it was not «a meeting of Catholic bloggers, even though many of you are inspired by the values of the Gospel, but will attempt to be above all — Pope Benedict invites us respectfully to this — a respectful dialogue: respectful of the truths of others as well as aware of what we bear in our hearts, in convinced and passionate adherence to Christ the Lord.»

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, stated: «Catholic bloggers are the Church’s public opinion. The Council teaching foresaw this reality, which has not been very developed.»

In the first round table discussion, a number of these bloggers stressed the importance of this way of communicating on the Internet.

The session participants underlined the way in which faith can be transmitted through blogs and discussions among persons present on the network.

Quoting John Paul II’s words, Andrés Beltramo, author of the «Sacro y Profano» [Sacred and Profane] blog, and Rome correspondent for Notimex agency, invited the Church not to fear these debates.

Mattia Marasco, an Italian author of several blogs, also invited the Church to «dare more» in this field.

Missionary aspect

Five speakers stressed the missionary aspect of the blogs.

Father Roderick Vonhögen said he discovered almost by accident the force and power of blogs. By sending videos on the Internet, he noted that he has become «a pastor for persons who need him» and who visit him on the network.

This Dutch priest, who publishes his interventions in English, compares his pastoral activity on the Internet with the building of a local community.

It was noted that the social networks are resources that are being used in a particularly effective way for the organization of the forthcoming World Youth Day in Madrid.

The meeting participants expressed joy about the opportunity to connect with colleagues from other parts of the world.

A matter that became clear during the discussions was the birth of a new type of pastoral presence on the Internet, to the point that, according to Italian Father Marco Sanavio, today the figure of the «web-pastor» is necessary.

François Jeanne-Beylot stated, «If Christ came to preach today, he would not go up a mountain or get into a boat, but he would go to Twitter or open a blog.»

Archbishop Celli stated that Monday’s meeting was only the start of other possible initiatives of greater scope.

It has helped the Holy See, he acknowledged, to be officially conscious «of the existence and importance of the ‘blogosphere'» today.

[With the contribution of Stéphane Lemessin]
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