A Christian Way of Being Present in the Digital World | Michael J. Miller | Catholic World Report
A new (and free) e-book compiles messages by Pope Benedict XVI about social communications
When Pope Benedict XVI opened a Twitter account in December 2012, it was not a publicity stunt but rather the logical development of Vatican involvement in the communications media that began with the founding of L’Osservatore Romano in the nineteenth and Vatican Radio in the twentieth century. The Second Vatican Council issued a brief Decree on the Means of Social Communication (Inter mirifica) at the conclusion of its second session in 1963, declaring that “it is the Church’s birthright to use and own any of these media which are necessary or useful for the formation of Christians and for pastoral activity” (IM 3).
The intense multi-media coverage of the Council itself seemed to herald a new era of Catholic presence in the public forum. Televised papal Masses—whether at midnight on Christmas, on pastoral journeys or at World Youth Days—became a regular feature in the life of the Church and in her outreach to the modern world. The Vatican’s website www.vatican.va and its recently consolidated news portal www.news.va are invaluable online resources.
In September 2013 the Pontifical Council for Social Communications expanded this development in yet another direction by publishing in e-book format a collection of the World Communications Day messages by Pope Benedict XVI. These annual messages are all dated January 24, the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of journalists, but were promulgated later in the year during the Easter season. Pope Benedict composed eight of them for the years 2006-2013 inclusive to offer his “reflection on some aspect of communication with a view to both promoting public discussion and providing some guidelines for the Church’s own engagement in this constitutive dimension of its mission” (from the Introduction by Abp. Claudio Maria Celli, President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications). The e-book is free and can be downloaded from the Vatican website.
Some of the messages have themes geared to other Church events, such as the Year of the Priest (2010) or World Youth Days.