Have you "friended" your priest today? And how many Twitter followers does the Pope have, anyway?
Vivian Manning-Schaffel: We're about to find out. In a new message from His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI asks priests to "discover new possibilities for carrying out their ministry to and for the Word of God." Through the wonderful world of social networking.
It seems the power that Twitter and Facebook have to reach so many cannot be denied -- even by the Catholic Church. "Church communities have always used the modern media for fostering communication, engagement with society, and, increasingly, for encouraging dialogue at a wider level. Yet the recent, explosive growth and greater social impact of these media make them all the more important for a fruitful priestly ministry," he says.
His Holiness goes on to say that it's not enough for Catholic priests to merely establish a presence in the world of digital media -- they need to be good at it as well. In his message, he said they need to be "more focused, efficient and compelling in their efforts. 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 says it's not enough simply for priests to be online, but they must also interact online by "exercising their proper role as leaders of communities which increasingly express themselves with the different 'voices' provided by the digital marketplace."
The Pope, an awfully hip fellow at the ripe ol' age of 83, rightly recognizes these social networking tools could open tremendous doors in the work of the Catholic Church. "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," he says.
If you so happen to be Catholic, it's one thing to follow or "friend" the Pope or your local priest and soak up their teachings that way. But what if your local Catholic priest "friends" or "follows" you and stumbles upon that "What's your favorite sexual position quiz" or that tweet filled with expressive expletives? You never know what they may remember -- and you may forget -- when you hit the confession booth!
|Vivian Manning-Schaffel has written for Babble, Parenting, The Advocate, The New York Post, Business Week and a variety of other publications and lives and works in the heart of breeder Brooklyn with her husband and two kids. She authors two pop culture blogs: The Mad Mom and A Hag Supreme, and is on the web at vivianmanningschaffel.com.|