Pope tells priests to use modern mediaWednesday, January 27th, 2010
Pope Benedict XVI has urged priests to proclaim the Gospel by employing the latest generation of audiovisual resources (images, videos, animated features, blogs, and websites).
In his message for 44th World Communications Day, the Pope chose the theme: The priest and pastoral ministry in a digital world: new media at the service of the Word. World Communications Day will be celebrated this year on Sunday May 16 and the theme of this year’s message coincides with the Church’s Year for Priests.
Welcoming Pope Benedict’s message for World Communications Day, Bishop Joseph Duffy, Bishop of Clogher and Chair of the Bishops’ Communications Commission said, “In this year’s message he says that using new communication technologies, priests can introduce people to the life of the Church and help people to discover the face of Christ. The Church has a responsibility to ensure that Christ and the Word are present in cyberspace so as to ‘give a soul to the fabric of communications that makes up the Web’.”
In his message the Pope refers to the Year for Priests and describes digital communications as an important and sensitive pastoral area, in which priests can discover new possibilities for carrying out their ministry to and for the Word of God.
Benedict XVI states that Church communities have always used the modern media for fostering communication, engagement with society, and, increasingly, for encouraging dialogue at a wider level. The recent, explosive growth and greater social impact of these media make them all the more important for a fruitful priestly ministry.
He states that all priests have, as their primary duty, the proclamation of Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word of God, and the communication of his saving grace in the sacraments. But also that, “Priests stand at the threshold of a new era: as new technologies create deeper forms of relationship across greater distances, they are called to respond pastorally by putting the media ever more effectively at the service of the Word.”
He adds that it is not sufficient to be present on the Web, or to see it only as a space to be filled. Priests can rightly be expected to be present in the world of digital communications as faithful witnesses to the Gospel, exercising their proper role as leaders of communities, which increasingly express themselves with the different "voices" provided by the digital marketplace.
He states, “Using new communication technologies, priests can introduce people to the life of the Church and help our contemporaries to discover the face of Christ. They will best achieve this aim if they learn, from the time of their formation, how to use these technologies in a competent and appropriate way, shaped by sound theological insights and reflecting a strong priestly spirituality grounded in constant dialogue with the Lord. Yet priests present in the world of digital communications should be less notable for their media savvy than for their priestly heart, their closeness to Christ. This will not only enliven their pastoral outreach, but also will give a ‘soul’ to the fabric of communications that makes up the Web.”
He concludes that, to priests in particular, the new media offer ever-new and far-reaching pastoral possibilities, encouraging them to embody the universality of the Church's mission, to build a vast and real fellowship, and to testify in today's world to the new life which comes from hearing the Gospel of Jesus, the eternal Son who came among us for our salvation. At the same time, “Priests must always bear in mind that the ultimate fruitfulness of their ministry comes from Christ himself, encountered and listened to in prayer; proclaimed in preaching and lived witness; and known, loved and celebrated in the sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist and Reconciliation.”
by Ann Marie Foley