Vatican official says presence of Catholics online ‘essential’ to Church

Rome (CNA) — Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, has emphasized that the presence of Catholics on the Internet is essential.

He noted that, in 2009, roughly 440 million Catholics went online. Archbishop Celli made his comments at Mercy University in the Swiss city of Fribourg during a meeting organized by the Bishops’ Conference of Switzerland and the Swiss Press League. The event was held in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the pastoral instruction on social communications, Communio et progressio

According to L’Osservatore Romano, Archbishop Celli said society has passed from the “era of information” to the “era of conversation,” in which the content is itself the object of dialogue.

Speaking about the social media, the archbishop said, “Language, understanding of communities and visibility are the great challenges facing those who want to be present in the new digital continent.”

He noted the important contributions to the world of communications made by Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI and said Catholics must meet the challenge of stepping into this “courtyard of the gentiles,” where God is unknown to many.



Posted Tuesday, January 17, 2012 5:35 AM By OCSAR
In this day when people call themselves ‘Catholic’, but may be heretics, schismatics, or apostates (CCC #2089) – perhaps even unknowingly due to poor catechesis, and since some Bishops teach personal political beliefs rather than only the Catholic Faith as approved by the Magistgerium, and many Catholics do not realize that Canon Law 1364 stipulates that the heretic as well as the apostate and schismatic incurs excommunication latae sententiae – we need to know our Faith better than ever. Our Lady of Akita (1973) has warned us about Bishops and Priests who disagree, and Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict) has told us the state of the Church in the “Ratzinger Report”. The “CCC 2nd Ed” is critical and should be studied, and used as a frequent reference when writing on the internet. The Saving of Souls may depend upon it. We never know who is reading our posts.

Posted Tuesday, January 17, 2012 5:37 AM By Juergensen
Despite the evil that the Internet brings, given the complete absence of faithful and complete catechesis in the U.S. it is an absolutely vital tool to learn the Catholic faith and, once the faith is learned, counter the misleading documents of the USCCB.

Posted Tuesday, January 17, 2012 7:14 AM By JoeCee
Is this report an acknowledgement of a remote possibility leading to the democratization of the Catholic church?

Posted Tuesday, January 17, 2012 7:45 AM By Dan
While stepping into the courtyard of the gentiles is extremely important, the sharing of information within the Church is also vital. I found a web link to Catholic spiritual classics, for example.mmOne wonders what some of the bishops think about us at CalCatholic when as bloggers we criticize them for their performance, or, rather, their lack of performance, at times. This too is part of the conversation, and is important. The troubles of Michael Voris and the Detroit Archdiocese show that not all bishops enjoy the conversation.

Posted Tuesday, January 17, 2012 9:48 AM By Laurette Elsberry
The presence of Catholics on the Internet (for example, California Catholic Daily) is essential. There must, however, be some discernment about what is of value and what is in effect “anti-Catholic”. A naive person may get an idea of Catholicism by viewing the statements by Call to Action, Catholic for a Free Choice, or the Catholic Association for Lesbian and Gay Ministries, and other dissident sites. These sites would certainly get a potential Catholic off on the very wrong foot.

Posted Tuesday, January 17, 2012 10:08 AM By Traditional Angelo
I am glad that Rome has recognized the importance of Catholics conversing with others on the Internet. As the Archbishop said, “where God is unknown to many.” There are many Catholic bashers on the internet, I have found that practicaly all of them do not know God through his Holy Catholic Church. There is a problem of vast ignorance. The Church last week also called for a revival of Apoligetics among the faithful. Apoligetics is as needed in the Church today as much as it was needed during the time of the Reformation. We cannot explain what we do not know ourselves, Apoligetics can only fix this problem. The Church in Mexico and the US has lost many hispanics to anti-Catholic sects, simply because people do not have a basic understanding of their faith, much less the knowledge to defend it. The Reform of the Reforms is well under way. Deo Gratias!

Posted Tuesday, January 17, 2012 11:16 AM By Maryanne Leonard
Laurette Elsberry, even on a perfectly legitimate site such as ours, one can easily read all sorts of hare-brained ideas that people espouse and attempt to promulgate who think of themselves as informed Catholics. Nevertheless, public discourse by and between Catholics is definitely helpful to all of us, as there is no end to all that we can learn about our unfathomably rich Catholic heritage. It could be most especially to those who do are uninformed, misinformed or who have misinterpreted Catholic teachings, if they are open to input from others (which I have noticed, most are not for some reason). Nevertheless, it is tremendously enriching to other readers who are in fact open to learning and/or enjoy the discussions, such as those here on Cal Catholic, that ensue. The more we know, the more we will be enabled to practice our faith with increasing devotion and fidelity to the teachings of Our Lord, and the greater the likelihood of our eternal welcome at His side.

Posted Tuesday, January 17, 2012 11:19 AM By k
Dan, you are referring to the Archdiocese of Detroit telling RealCatholicTV that they do not have permission to use the word Catholic. I suspect there are many websites which use the word Catholic in their names that do not have permission. I do not see how the Church could possibly keep up with it all. I would expect that most Catholics start their websites in good faith and do not know the canon which states that they need permission.

Posted Tuesday, January 17, 2012 1:25 PM By mrpkguy
I have news for JoeCee who comments: “Is this report an acknowledgement of a remote possibility leading to the democratization of the Catholic church? ” The Catholic Church has never been nor will it ever be “democratic”. Want democracy? Better look somewhere else – Jesus did not found His church to be a democracy…..sorry!

Posted Tuesday, January 17, 2012 2:35 PM By John F. Maguire
In reply to Jon Juergensen: (1) Although there is an objective need for improvement in the field of catechesis and a strong felt-need that matches it, your claim that there is a “complete absence” of “complete” — complete and faithful — “catechesis in the U.S.” is hyperbole. (2) Also hyperbolic is your postulate that “the Internet brings evil” when what needs first to be said is that the Internet is a good thing, notably as a major facility in the domain of communications, however liable this facility is to certain abuses. Moreover, (3) given the fact that catechesis is a fundamental responsibility of the Church’s bishops, it is manifestly incongruous for a website such as California Catholic Daily to purport to promote Catholic catechesis without having secured, inter alia, episcopal permission to use the name Catholic in the first place. What is completely absent then is not ecclesial catechesis in the United States but rather the local conveyance of ecclesial permission to California Catholic Daily to use the name Catholic. (4) This non-permission problem, Mr. Juergensen, is compounded by those posts of yours that are ‘overdetermined’ by a certain rancor of suspicion directed against the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Not only do you claim that the USCCB’s adult catechesis on voting ethics is misleading, you claim that ensuring High Court adherence to _Roe v. Wade_ is the motive of the USCCB, that is, the real motive of the USCCB instead of the USCCB’s professed motive of adult catechesis on the ethics and the moral theology of voter decision-making. Your imputation is grievously mistaken. As such, it is an attack on the good name of the Church’s bishops.

Posted Tuesday, January 17, 2012 2:53 PM By JLS
JoeCree, how can the Catholic Church become democratized, since it is guaranteed by God who is not subject to man’s ways?

Posted Tuesday, January 17, 2012 2:58 PM By Bud 
The “Church” must remember that the majority of Catholics really never had a soapbox to voice opinion until the internet became available. Prior to that, in reading Chesterton written in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, it seems to reveal the identical problems but were mostly confined to the writers and more educated. The immigrants were very busy escaping Europe and it’s self serving governments to find enough to eat! There are too many elitist administrators in the church who live the life they preach.

Posted Tuesday, January 17, 2012 5:37 PM By MIKE
Yes, Maguire, you are right that US Diocese Bishops have the RESPONSIBILITY for catechesis. So why haven’t many been actively and publically promoting the reading and studying of the “Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition” in their own Diocese since March 2000 ??? The USA is literate, and there are no good excuses. I respectfully request that you read “The Ratzinger Report” – ‘a shattered catechesis’ starting on page 72. When some Bishops don’t do their job, we will have to do it for them. Further the USCCB voting document is weak and allows for easy misinterpretation, rather than being clear and strong regarding for pro-abortion candidates when there is another choice. Regarding episcopal conferences – “It happens then that the search for agreement between the different tendancies and the effort at mediation often yield flattened documents in which decisive position (where they might be necessary) are weakened.” – Cardinal Ratzinger (pg 61). We must all remember that Bishops’ conferences have no teaching authority (except when given to them by individual bishops), and has no theological basis. When the USCCB tells us to change our light bulbs to poisonous bulbs for Lent, gives money to pro-abortion and pro gay-marriage groups for years, approves fake global warming which is merely a tool for population control – abortion and contraception and to make some greedy people rich, and propogating personal political views rather than those that are clearly Church doctrine – do you really wonder why there is a back-lash from decent Catholics ?

Posted Wednesday, January 18, 2012 12:10 PM By John F. Maguire
In reply to Mike: We must also remember that national epispocal conferences, although not in essence the apostolic Church and therefore NOT in possession of the mandatum docendi, nonetheless are “modalities” of the Church. To explain: Since the spirit of collegiality is “always present among the Bishops as communio episcoporum,” we should not be surprised to learn that “the various ways in which affective collegiality comes to be realized in effective collegiality belong to the human order, but in varying degrees they concretize the divine requirement that the episcopate should express itself in a collegial manner.” Worldwide, one of the major ways any one episcopate expresses itself in a collegial manner is through the institution of the national episcopal conference. Whence John Paul II’s affirmation of “the importance and usefulness of the Conferences of Bishops, which were given an institutional configuration by the Council and more precisely determined by the Code of Canon Law and the recent Motu Proprio _Apostolos Suos_ [1998].” Source: Pope John Paul II, Post-Synodal Exhortation _Pastores Gregis_ (Oct. 12, 2003). Mike, you are right to quote Cardinal Ratzinger on the lack of a teaching mandate on the part of national episcopal conferences, but look at the speech-context within which you are (correctly) quoting Cardinal Ratzinger. The attacks on the very existence of national episcopal conferences on this website are attacks pro tanto on episcopal collegiality as (a) defined by the Second Vatican Council and (b) given determinate structure by Canon Law. These counter-Conference attacks, in fine, are a part of a lay-blogger (right-deviationist) revolt against the Catholic episcopate itself.

Posted Wednesday, January 18, 2012 2:49 PM By MIKE
Maguire, I would love to be able to state that the USCCB and State episcopal conferences are wonderful and that we should follow them. In good conscience I CANNOT do so, since they frequently push their own political and social agendas rather than those mandated by the Magisterium in the CCC, in addition to those things I mentioned above in my Jan 17, 5:37pm post. Let them clean house and clean staff; have all adhere 100% to the CCC in entirety; have them stay out of politics except for the Fundamental Rights of ALL men or the Salvation of Souls and ONLY according to the Gospel (CCC 2245 & 2246); and have them actively promote the CCC. At that point I will join you in singing their praises. Until then, I can not. Here is one more quote from Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict) from the “Ratzinger Report” – “We must not forget that the episcopal conferences have no theological basis, they DO NOT belong to the structure of the Church, AS WILLED BY CHRIST, that CANNOT BE ELIMINATED; they have only a practical concrete function” (pg 59; caps are mine). Right now the USCCB causes more problems and create more DISUNITY than they are worth. Many of their actions can not be supported by anyone with intelligence. They can not even agree to enforce Canon 915 against SCANDAL and SACRILEGE. The USCCB also asked for many indults (special exceptions) that have not been helpful to the spiritual life of Americans.

Posted Wednesday, January 18, 2012 4:53 PM By John F. Maguire
Sure, Mike, a critique of the ‘personnel’ of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops would be welcome, but it is incumbent upon anyone who diligently engages in such a critique FIRST to recognize — because it is a matter of papally promulgated (canon) law — the COMPLEMENTARITY of (A) Cardinal Ratzinger’s correct observation that national episcopal conferences have “only a practical function” and (B) Pope John Paul II’s correct observation that this very same practical function derives from the affective/effective COLLEGIALITY of the COMMUNIO EPISCOPORUM as “institutional[ly] configured” by the Second Vatican Council. Mike, you have acknowledged [A] but not [B]. How come? ~ Nor are you right that the work of applying Canon Law, for example Canon 915, is an Episcopal Conference matter rather than a matter proper to the episcopal office of local ordinaries. Nor yet are you right that the USCCB is a source of disunity in the Church. One obvious source of real disunity in the Church comes from a lay-blogger revolt against the Catholic episcopate itself — a revolt prosecuted on the Internet in favor of a right-deviationist ideology that is opposed to the Church’s social teaching no less than it is opposed to the USCCB’s position on voting ethics.

Posted Wednesday, January 18, 2012 8:13 PM By John F. Maguire
Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli is president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. What recommends Archbishop Celli’s systematic response to the extraordinary developments in communications technologies in the last two decades is, first and foremost, the Archbishop’s Trinitarian understanding of the reality universally known as: communication. In his 2009 visit to the state of Texas, Archbishop Celli gave an address in which he quoted the American Cardinal, the late Avery Dulles,S.J., to the following effect: (1) “The Trinity is communication in absolute, universal perfection, a totally free and complete sharing among equals, In generating the Son as word, the Father totally expresses himself… the Holy Spirit completes the intradivine process of communications.” (2) “The entire work of creation, redemption, and sanctification is a prolongation of the inner processions within the Trinity. Creation is ascribed to the Father, who thereby fashions finite images and vestiges of his Son. Redemption is appropriated to his Son, who communicates himself to human nature in the Incarnation. Sanctification is appropriated by the Holy Spirit who communicates himself to the Church, the communion of saints. The mystery of divine communication, therefore, permeates any area of theology… Because Christianity is the religion of the Triune God, it is pre-eminently a religion of communication.” Source: Archbishop Claudio M. Celli, President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, “The Role of Mass Communications in Evangelization,” address to the NEA Conference, Dallas, Texas, January 30, 2009, quoting Avery Cardinal Dulles, _The Craft of Theology: From Symbol to System_, 1992). Archbishop Celli’s formulation is well-worthy reiterating: “Because Christianity is the religion of the Triune God, it is pre-eminently a religion of communication.”

Posted Thursday, January 19, 2012 8:12 AM By John F. Maguire
Erving Goffman’s pioneering study on the topic of _The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life_ (1959) serves us, we now see, as an introduction to contemporary studies on the presentation of self in, specifically, the communications domain opened up by the digital revolution. Compare Benedict VI’s address on “Truth, Proclamation and Authenticity of Life in the Digital Age” (45th World Communications Day, June 5, 2011). “In the digital age,” Benedict observes, “transmitting information increasingly means making it known within a social network where knowledge is shared in the context of personal exchanges. The clear distinction between the producer and consumer of information is relativized and communication appears not only as an exchange of data, but also as a form of sharing. This dynamic has contributed to a new appreciation of communication itself, which is seen first of all as dialogue, exchange, solidarity and the creation of positive relations. On the other hand, this is contrasted with the limits typical of digital communication: the one-sidedness of the interaction, the tendency to communicate only some parts of one’s interior world, the risk of constructing a false image of oneself, which can be a form of self-indulgence.”

Posted Saturday, January 21, 2012 3:44 PM By k
Dan, Mark Shea. blogger at Catholic and enjoying it, contacted his diocese about his use of the word Catholic in the name of his blog and was by the chancery that they don’t have time to police that and not to worry about it.

Posted Monday, January 23, 2012 9:51 PM By JLS
Maguire, that stuff was all summed up by Marshall McCluhan “The medium is the message”. But of course it was first put to the public mind somewhat before the twentieth century. I’ll let you worry about when and by whom.

Posted Friday, January 27, 2012 4:47 PM By John F. Maguire
JLS: I think you’re right to associate Erving Goffman with Marshall McLuhan. A systematic investigation of the relationship between Goffman’s micro-sociology of face-to-face interaction, on the one hand, and McLuhan’s historico-societal media-concepts, on the other hand, can be found in Joshua Meyrowitz’s book _No Sense of Space: The Influence of Electronic Media on Social Behavior_ (Oxford University Press, 1986); also see Derrick de Kerckhove, “La foi en l’eglise de Marshall McLuhan,” in _La Civilization video-chretienne_ (Paris: Editions Retz, 1990). Derrick de Kerckhove’s reference to Marshall McLuhan’s concept of faith allows me to attempt an answer to your quiz question. In its most intensive sense, the axiom “the medium is the message” is a reference to the sole Mediator between God and man (not excluding Holy Mary mediatrix of all graces). This sole Mediator is Jesus of Nazareth, the Word Incarnate, who said in all solemnity, “I am the truth, the light, and the way.” Here, in Christ as medium, here only in Christ as medium: The medium IS the message.