In his Message for World Communications Day Pope Benedict addresses the subject of Catholic blogs and social networking, welcoming the potential for new forms of communication and knowledge while at the same time giving advise about its authentic use.
‘The web is contributing to the development of new and more complex intellectual and spiritual horizons, new forms of shared awareness. In this field too we are called to proclaim our faith that Christ is God, the Saviour of humanity and of history, the one in whom all things find their fulfilment (cf. Eph 1:10).’
The Holy Father’s basic advice is that Catholic bloggers must not put popularity above proclaiming the fullness of the truth:
‘First of all, we must be aware that the truth which we long to share does not derive its worth from its “popularity” or from the amount of attention it receives. We must make it known in its integrity, instead of seeking to make it acceptable or diluting it. It must become daily nourishment and not a fleeting attraction.’
Unsurprisingly but maybe necessary all the same, Pope Benedict also advises Catholic bloggers to be Christian in the way they post and respond to comments:
‘The proclamation of the Gospel requires a communication which is at once respectful and sensitive, which stimulates the heart and moves the conscience; one which reflects the example of the risen Jesus when he joined the disciples on the way to Emmaus (cf. Lk 24:13-35). By his approach to them, his dialogue with them, his way of gently drawing forth what was in their heart, they were led gradually to an understanding of the mystery.’
Protect the Pope comment: On Protect the Pope I have attempted to encourage respectful but robust discussion between contributors to the site. Having said this, in challenging the falsehoods and vitriol directed at the Holy Father and the Catholic Faith I have felt it necessary to bluntly name prejudice, intolerance and discrimination and hold those responsible for it to account. When someone appears to intentionally lie, it is necessary to identify them as liars, when someone appears to intentionally promote prejudice, it is necessary to identify them as bigots. Why is it necessary to identify lies and bigotry against the Holy Father and the Catholic Church? Because pretending it’s not happening with a diplomatic silence is taken as weakness by liars and bigots which encourages them to greater outrages, and unopposed airtime and coverage by the media.
Pope Benedict’s advice to Catholic bloggers makes me ask the question, how can I be sensitive and respectful to individuals who post such dreadful lies about Pope Benedict and stir up such unjust hate and prejudice against Catholics?
I can’t help but notice that St Paul and St John are not models of sensitivity and respect when writing about heretics and persecutors. Is there no place for anger in being a Christian?