In our enthusiastic leap into the world of new media, Pope Benedict gives us something very important to keep in mind:
“A pastoral presence in the world of digital communications, precisely because it brings us into contact with the followers of other religions, non-believers and people of every culture, requires sensitivity to those who do not believe, the disheartened and those who have a deep, unarticulated desire for enduring truth and the absolute. Just as the prophet Isaiah envisioned a house of prayer for all peoples (cf. Is 56:7), can we not see the web as also offering a space – like the “Court of the Gentiles” of the Temple of Jerusalem – for those who have not yet come to know God?” - Pope Benedict XVI (44th WCD)
Here he is specifically speaking to priests, but this most certainly applies to all of us.
There are a lot of great, Catholic communities on the web of which we can participate. Whether it’s a particular blog, a website, a forum or even your own Facebook wall, it’s easy to forget that - on the web - we are most often in mixed company. Even if you think your community or readers are entirely Catholic, you are sharing a space with “those who have not yet come to know God.”
Most will not join the conversation or break their silence, but many “who do not believe” are listening in, peeking over your shoulder and quietly taking it all in. So while it is imperative that we participate in and share our faith online, doing it with charity and with a sensitivity to mixed company is a foundational part of that.
With the power of new media, our Catholic story is more accessible to the world than ever before. Our activities online, all of the things we say and do, are crystalized forever in the ether of the web. With every key stroke we collectively write the reality TV show of our Catholic story. There will surely be battles, drama, comedy and tragedy along the way. But in the end, let’s make sure it’s a love story.