The new media and the new evangelization

Msgr. Paul Tighe, secretary to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications of the Vatican, addresses a workshop Aug. 12 at the C3 Technology Conference at Loyola Marymount University. Msgr. Tighe’s Aug. 13 keynote talk and more information about the conference will appear on The Tidings’ website and in the Aug. 22 issue. — Credit: VICTOR ALEMAN

This week, we held our annual C3 Technology Conference at Loyola Marymount University.

You can read more about the conference elsewhere in the pages of this week’s Tidings and online at Angelusnews.com.

For me, this conference is another sign of how important new technologies are for our mission of the new evangelization.

Our Holy Father Pope Francis has been calling us to find new ways to evangelize using these new media, such as Facebook and Twitter.

And following the Holy Father’s example, these social media have become a part of my daily ministry.

My goal in using these channels is to make connections with people, to build friendships and community, to address peoples’ spiritual needs, and to nourish their faith.

And there have been some extraordinary moments. Earlier this year, for instance, a note I posted on Facebook about the value of the Rosary was shared and viewed by more than 1.5 million people.

Other offices and agencies in the archdiocese are also making daily use of these new media.

Our goal in our archdiocesan media ministry is evangelization, broadly defined. We want to provide solid news and information about the Church. We want to share the Church’s teachings and social doctrine and the Catholic vision for our society and culture.

In every age, the Church is called to go where people are to share the Gospel. And in our age, we find more and more people are spending more and more time in the virtual communities created by the Internet.

We are living in the first generation where the Internet, computers, mobile phones and social networking media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are a “given” part of ordinary daily reality.

So the Church needs to have a strong presence in this digital culture. And because all of us have a responsibility for the Church’s mission, we all have a responsibility for using these new technologies to share our faith.

We need to raise up a new generation of evangelists who are able to use these technologies to meet people and to find new ways to express the heart of the Gospel — the message of mercy, the message of salvation.

Our task is to find ways to create what Pope Francis calls “a culture of encounter” in this digital space.

We know people are using these new social networks and digital channels to search for meaning and hope; for connections and community.

So Catholics need to be there to listen to what people are talking about — to hear their desires, doubts and hopes. We need to be there to find ways to enter into a dialogue.

Everything we do in this field — blogging, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, all of it — it’s all about bringing people to Jesus. It’s all about bringing people to the true encounter with Jesus Christ. To the reality of the living God who loves us, who forgives us, who cares for us like a Father.

It’s important to remember that these new technologies are a “means.” They are not the “end” or the goal of our evangelization.

They are new tools to serve the mission of the Church.

The goal of our mission in this digital environment is the same as the Church’s mission in every age and every place.

We want to move people from a “virtual” community to a real encounter with Jesus Christ. To a true sharing in his life through the Sacraments, and to authentic human relations with our brothers and sisters in the Church, which is the family of God.

So let us pray this week for the grace and courage to proclaim the Gospel in our culture.

Friday is the holy day of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. So let’s remember to give thanks for the beautiful hope that we share as Christians — the hope of eternal life.

The day of the Assumption is also special for me because it is the anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood. So I ask your prayers for me on that day as I thank God for the great privilege and joy of my vocation.

Also this week, we need to pray for our Holy Father Pope Francis as he makes his pilgrimage this weekend to share the Gospel with the people of Korea.

And finally, we need to keep our persecuted brothers and sisters in Iraq in our prayers. In the social media, you can learn more and show your support through the Twitter hashtags: #Iraq and #PrayForPeace. May God strengthen them — and may our leaders and the world community do more to come to their assistance.

Let us entrust all of these intentions to our Blessed Mother Mary, who by her Assumption shows us God’s loving heart and his plan for his human family, that all be cared for as his children and destined for eternal life with him.

 

Archbishop Gomez’s CPA Award-winning book, “Immigration and the Next America,”is available at the Cathedral Gift Shop (www.olacathedralgifts.com/immigrationandthenextamericarenewingthesoulofournation.aspx). Follow him at www.facebook.com/ArchbishopGomez.


Voices

Spiritual, but not religious? Who to blame for declining church attendance

Father Ronald Rolheiser, OMI

It’s no secret that today there’s been a massive drop-off in church attendance. Moreover, that drop-off in church-going is not paralleled by the same widespread growth in atheism and agnosticism. Rather, more and more people are claiming to be spiritual but not religious, faith-filled but not churchgoers. Why this exodus from our churches?

The Holy Father visits the Holy Land

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