Sunday 29th November 2015

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

The New Media And The Work of Evangelization

June 11, 2014 Our Catholic Faith No Comments


DUBLIN (ZENIT) — This address was delivered May 19 by Archbishop Eamon Martin, coadjutor archbishop of Armagh, at the Soul Waves Radio conference in Dublin. ZENIT News Agency provided the text. All rights reserved.

+    +    +

Many people say that it was a four-minute speech which led to the election of Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio of Buenos Aires as Pope. In his pre-conclave speech to the other cardinals, he used the popular image from the Book of Revelation of Jesus standing at the door and knocking. But in an unusual and inspired way, he turned the image around:
“Obviously, the text refers to His knocking from the outside in order to enter, but I think about the times in which Jesus knocks from within so that we will let Him come out. The self-referential Church keeps Jesus Christ within herself and does not let Him out.”
A Church which does not come out of herself to evangelize, he said, becomes self-referential and then gets sick.
We have become familiar over the past year with this consistent theme in the teaching of Pope Francis. In Evangelii Gaudium he writes: “I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting, and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security. . . . If something should rightly disturb us and trouble our consciences, it is the fact that so many of our brothers and sisters are living without the strength, light, and consolation born of friendship with Jesus Christ, without a community of faith to support them, without meaning and a goal in life.”
It is in this context that I would like to introduce the challenges and opportunities for new media in evangelization. I am going to take it for granted that all of us here accept the necessity of people of faith to be involved in new media if we want to make the Gospel widely known in today’s world.
The Catholic Church has always advocated the use of whatever media are available to it in bringing the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Fifty years ago, at the Second Vatican Council, one of the first decrees issued by the Council Fathers, Inter Mirifica, was on the media of social communications. Its first paragraph reads:
“Among the wonderful technological discoveries which men of talent, especially in the present era, have made with God’s help, the Church welcomes and promotes with special interest those which have . . . uncovered new avenues of communicating . . . news, views, and teachings of every sort. The most important of these inventions are media such as the press, movies, radio, television, and the like. These can . . . reach and influence, not only individuals, but the very masses and the whole of human society.”
Note the welcoming and positive tone of the message for these “wonderful technological discoveries.” Mention of “press, movies, radio, TV” seems miles away from smartphones, tablets, Netflix, Skype, Twitter, and Facebook!
Christians always made use of all forms of media to spread the good news — whether it be parchments and scrolls, high crosses, art, stained glass, illuminated manuscripts, printing, television, or radio. We must welcome the use of so-called new media in this task. Many parishes have websites, there are “sacred spaces” online, priests on Facebook, the Pope on Twitter, i-Catholic, soul waves radio, and many more. Last year Proposition 18 from the Synod on the New Evangelization stated, “Education in the wise and constructive use of social media is an important means to be utilized in the New Evangelization.”
By way of example, last week along with Cardinal Brady, I led the Armagh diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes. Our first morning Mass at the grotto was web-streamed across the world and within minutes we had requests for special intentions from home and beyond.
There are different ways of looking at the use of new media in evangelization — one is to see the new media as yet another tool to reach people with the message of the Gospel. By means of the various forms of new media, we can reach out to the peripheries and draw people in, so that they can hear the word of God and understand it better. They may then be open to a face-to-face encounter with a Church or parish group, or feel drawn to Mass and the sacraments.
Another way is to see the digital, online, or virtual world itself as a new space which is itself in need of evangelization. It is in this context that we notice references to a “digital continent to be won for Christ,” a “digital sea in which the barque of Christ must set sail,” a “virtual world ripe for mission.”
If the first of these is described as “evangelizing through” the Internet, the second might be termed “evangelizing on” the Internet.


One of my favorite chapters in the New Testament is Acts 17, which speaks about Paul going into Athens, the bustling communications capital of the ancient world. Paul is greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols.
Verse 21 comments: “All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.” I see the Internet as being like the “new Athens,” new marketplace, or Areopagus, a “global village” to be won for Christ. Our challenge is to become witnesses for Christ in this strange new world, to enter into dialogue with the digital culture.
If only to be able to reach our young people and an increasing percentage of people of all ages, we need to be present in this new Areopagus. Our young people are spending huge proportions of their time in this virtual world, so much so that for many it is becoming increasingly the place where they live their lives, and what we call the real world of face-to-face seems often dull and uneventful to them, and their secondary existence. Never cease to be amazed at the ability of young people to text, snapchat, and Facebook with others all while talking to you!
The Internet has become like the nervous system of our culture, in which more and more people are expressing and exploring their identity, picking up and discarding their values and attitudes, expressing their feelings and prejudices, befriending and unfriending each other, measuring each other’s status and importance, relevance and appearance.
If our young people and people are living in this gigantic network, then we, as people of faith, need to be in there, dialoguing with the inhabitants of this world, with the men and women who dwell in the web!
When in the Church we speak about new evangelization, we more often than not think of the so-called real world, but billions of people live in the social networks. These have been described as among the biggest countries in the world — and they are countries with no barriers.
For example, 1.2 billion inhabit the world of Facebook. The majority of these people may never enter a church, but if we are to respond to the Gospel mandate given us by Christ to “go out to the whole world,” then we must nowadays include the digital world and proclaim the Good News there. Our challenge as evangelizers has always been to reach out and encounter people where they are at, and nowadays, more and more that means online!
In his Message for the 48th World Communications Day, Pope Francis speaks about “Communication at the Service of an Authentic Culture of Encounter.”
The Internet, in particular, he says, “offers immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity. This is something truly good, a gift from God.”
Pope Francis recognizes the problems and drawbacks with authentic communication in the virtual world, for example — problems with achieving balance, fighting stereotypes, the ease with which people can isolate themselves or “barricade themselves” online “behind sources of information which only confirm their own wishes and ideas, or political and economic interests.”
However, he is clear that as Christians we need to “walk the streets of the digital highways, to encounter like the Good Samaritan those who are lying on the side of the road and witness to them in tenderness and love.”
Thanks to the Internet, he says, “Christian witness can reach the peripheries of human existence.” I quote from the message: “The digital highway is…a street teeming with people who are often hurting, men and women looking for salvation or hope. By means of the Internet, the Christian message can reach ‘to the ends of the earth’ (Acts 1:8).”
There is a temptation to see evangelization in the new media as simply bombarding people with religious messages. Pope Francis encourages us to go beyond this. He challenges us to think about how we can effectively encounter people and witness to them in, and using, new media. He asks: “Can we be available to them, hear their issues and problems, engage with their questions and doubts and their search for truth”?
In a beautiful passage he says: “May the image of the Good Samaritan who tended to the wounds of the injured man by pouring oil and wine over them be our inspiration. Let our communication be a balm which relieves pain and a fine wine which gladdens hearts.” He urges us: “Let us boldly become citizens of the digital world…in order to dialogue with people today and to help them encounter Christ. [The Church] needs to be a Church at the side of others, capable of accompanying everyone along the way.”

Charity And Love

I would therefore like to suggest a number of principles to guide our presence in the digital highways:
1) Be positive and joyful. Offer “digital smiles” and have a sense of humor. Remember that it is the “joy of the Gospel” that we are communicating, so, as Pope Francis says: no “funeral faces” or “sourpusses”!
2) Strictly avoid aggression and “preachiness” online; try not to be judgmental or polemical —goodness knows, there is enough of this online already! Instead, try Pope Francis’ approach of “tenderness and balm.”
3) Never bear false witness on the Internet.
4) Remember “Ubi caritas et amor.” Fill the Internet with charity and love, always giving rather than taking. Continually seek to broaden and reframe discussions and seek to include a sense of charity and solidarity with the suffering in the world.
5) Have a broad back when criticisms and insults are made — when possible, gently correct.
6) Pray in the digital world! Establish sacred spaces, opportunities for stillness, reflection, and meditation online.
7) Establish connections, relationships, and build communion. Church has always been about “gathering.” In this, it is worth considering an ecumenical presence for the Christian churches online. The Internet tends to be a place of ethical and intellectual relativism, and often of aggressive secularism. The scandal of disunity among Christians can be easily exploited and exaggerated. Therefore we must seek to share resources so that we can have a powerful Gospel witness. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if people started noticing online: “See how these Christians love one another.”
8) Educate our young to keep themselves safe and to use the Internet responsibly.
9) Witness to human dignity at all times online. Seek, as Pope Benedict once said, to “give a soul to the Internet.” We are well aware of the pervasive prevalence of pornography on the Internet which can “pollute the spirit,” destroy and degrade human sexuality and relationships, reduce persons to objects for gratification, draw millions into the commodification and commercialization of sex, feed the monster that is human trafficking.
10) Be missionary, be aware that with the help of the Internet, a message has the potential to reach the ends of the earth in seconds. In this regard, let us foster and call forth charisms in younger committed people who understand the power and potential of the net to bear witness.
On May 5 Pope Francis tweeted: @Pontifex: What does “evangelize” mean? To give witness with joy and simplicity to what we are and what we believe in.
That is our challenge and our privilege as Christians. Freely we have received the joy of the Gospel, now let us freely give it.

+    +    +

(© 2014 Innovative Media Inc.)

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

Police officer killed at Planned Parenthood was pro-life, Christian pastor

Nov. 28, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Officer Garrett Swasey, the police officer killed during a standoff with a lone gunman at a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs Friday, was reportedly a leading figure in his church who was also pro-life.…Continue Reading

In Australia, bishops face legal complaint for defending marriage

Sydney, Australia (CNA/EWTN News) — The Sydney archbishop has strongly defended the freedom of the Catholic Church in response to a legal complaint claiming the Australian bishops’ pastoral letter on marriage violated Tasmania’s strict anti-discrimination law. “Australia is party to…Continue Reading

Obama Just Sent MAJOR Threat To Every US State That Won’t Take Syrian Refugees

The Obama Administration is issuing a showdown with states that are refusing to accept Syrian refugees. The administration sent a letter telling states they would be subject to enforcement action if they do not comply with federal plans to import…Continue Reading

Pope at UN in Africa: We Have a Choice: Either Improve or Destroy the Environment

Says It Will Be ‘Catastrophic’ If Individual Interests Prevail Over the Common Good in Paris Meeting, and Information Is Manipulated to Protect ‘Plans and Projects’ Kenya, November 26, 2015 ( Staff Reporter Here is a Vatican translation of the address…Continue Reading

Cardinal Pell bets against the odds: insists Pope Francis will strongly reaffirm Catholic tradition

ROME, November 25, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) — Contradicting the statements of some of the pope’s closest advisors, the Vatican’s financial chief Cardinal George Pell has declared that Pope Francis will re-assert and “clarify” longstanding Church teaching and discipline that prohibits Communion…Continue Reading

‘Bleeding host’ under investigation by SL Catholic diocese

(KUTV) The Salt Lake Catholic Diocese has started an investigation into what is being described as a ‘bleeding host’ at a local parish, St. Francis Xavier in Kearns. Images of the host, given to 2News, showed circles of deep red,…Continue Reading

How did heterodox prelates try to change doctrine at synod?

In this address delivered at the Catholic Voice conference Faith of Our Fathers, Matthew McCusker of Voice of the Family discusses three key elements of the “progressive” strategy deployed at the Ordinary Synod: arguing for changes in the Church’s language,…Continue Reading

Bishop Defends Against ‘Vicious’ Bill Donohue Attack

by Church Militant • • November 24, 2015 65 Comments Bishop Rene Henry Gracida is criticizing the Catholic League The bishop emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas is defending against what he calls the “vicious attack” by Catholic League’s…Continue Reading

Pope Francis to German Bishops: Your Church is a mess! Fix it and … GO TO CONFESSION!

The German bishops are making their ad limina visit. Every few years diocesan bishops have to go to Rome to meet with offices of the Roman Curia and, usually, the Pope. Pope Francis gave an address to the German bishops…Continue Reading

Germany’s bishops discuss decentralizing the Church in meeting with Pope Francis

ROME, November 23, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) — The German bishops, sixty-seven of them, recently visited Rome together for their obligatory Ad Limina visit with the pope from November 16-20. This Ad Limina visit, which is obligatory for all bishops of the…Continue Reading

In Australia, Catholic Bishops Face Court Action, Huge Fines Over Traditional Views on Marriage

Australians have always viewed America’s litigious culture with suspicion. Our “no worries mate” approach to life means we tend not to rush off to court at the drop of a hat. So last week when a state government commissioner ruled…Continue Reading

Cardinal Wuerl’s Embassy Row Penthouse

Walking through the posh neighborhood of Embassy Row in October, I stumbled across a scoop: that Washington, D.C.’s Cardinal Donald Wuerl lives in a penthouse atop a mansion priced north of $40 million. That Embassy Row mansion is the Our…Continue Reading


Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.

  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Pope Francis Arrives in Central African Republic

Francis Will Open Holy Door in Bangui Before Inauguration of Jubilee of Mercy in Vatican Bangui, November 29, 2015 ( Deborah Castellano Lubov Pope Francis has arrived in the Central African Republic, the final leg of his first Apostolic Visit to Africa, after having visited Kenya and Uganda. The Pontiff arrived at the M’poko International Airport in the war-torn nation’s capital of Bangui around 10 a.m. local time, after a nearly three-hour flight from Uganda,…Continue Reading

Pope to young: Jesus can transform walls into a path


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday encouraged young people in Uganda to turn negative experiences into positive ones with the help of Jesus and his grace. In an address where the Pope ditched his prepared remarks and spoke off-the-cuff in Spanish, he urged the young people to open the door of their hearts to Jesus. More than 150,000 cheering and dancing young people had gathered at an airstrip near Kampala to hear the Pope and…Continue Reading

Pope Gives Youth Choice: Do You Want to Overcome Challenges or Be Overcome by Them?

Throwing Aside Script, Pope Francis Asks Kenya’s Young People If They’ll Allow Difficulties Destroy or Use Them As Opportunities Nairobi, November 27, 2015 ( Deborah Castellano Lubov Pope Francis has asked Kenya’s young people how they will respond to the challenges they face, including those of bad tribalism, corruption, and desperation, and challenged them to get out of vicious cycles. Speaking to tens of thousands gathered in Nairobi’s Kasarani Stadium, this morning, the Pope listened…Continue Reading

The Catholic Origins of Thanksgiving

Did you know that Thanksgiving is a Catholic holiday? True, it’s not on the Church calendar. And it is celebrated only in America, whereas Church holidays are universal. Our national holiday is certainly an event that has taken on a life of its own, with an established tradition involving turkey and mashed potatoes, football, shopping, and a four-day weekend—which is fascinating since none of those things have anything to do with the original event that…Continue Reading

Pope Mass in Kenya: Stand firm in faith

(Vatican Radio) On the first full day of his visit to Kenya, Pope Francis celebrated Mass at Nairobi University. During his homily, which he gave on a specially constructed alter on the campus grounds, the Pope stressed the importance of the family noting that, “Kenyan society has long been blessed with strong family life, a deep respect for the wisdom of the elderly and love for children. The health of any society depends on the…Continue Reading

Conversion To Pro-Life

By DONALD DeMARCO Before Roe v. Wade, but when the abortion issue was being hotly contested, certain pro-life leaders in Canada, as well as in the United States, told me that once people realized what abortion entails, the controversy would be settled solidly in favor of life. The plausible assumption in the minds of these…Continue Reading

How An Americanist/Modernist Continued To Undermine Catholic Teaching

By JAMES LIKOUDIS The author of Pilgrim Church: A Popular History of Catholic Christianity (Revised & Expanded; Twenty-Third Publications, 1989) that continues to circulate in Catholic parishes is Fr. William J. Bausch, who may be remembered by veterans of the sex education battles of the 1970s for his book A Boy’s Sex Life when he…Continue Reading

The End Of Obamaworld

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN In denouncing Republicans as “scared of widows and orphans,” and castigating those who prefer Christian refugees to Muslims coming to America, Barack Obama has come off as petulant and unpresidential. Clearly, he is upset. And with good reason. He grossly, transparently underestimated the ability of ISIS, the “JV” team, to strike…Continue Reading

The Fictional Islamic State

By JUDE DOUGHERTY There is reason to believe that the so-called “Islamic State” is a fictional being rather than a reality. A state has borders, a central government, and a bureaucratic structure. None of this has been claimed for ISIS, although some have spoken of ISIS as a proto-state. What we have in fact is…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “How To Organize A Pro-Family Group”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 1 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For the complete guide to organizing an effective pro-family group, e-mail him at + + + Our problem: Many people are concerned about the homosexual special rights agenda, and are amazed at…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

An Apologetics Course . . . The Rule Of Faith Is The Church’s Teaching Authority

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 30 In order to finish the discussion on the revolution caused by Martin Luther nearly 500 years ago, let us consider his first major dogma, namely, sola Scriptura. Any Catholic — especially The Wanderer readers — who want to take their faith seriously and apply the criteria laid down by John Paul II in…Continue Reading

The Communion Of Saints

By DON FIER For the past six weeks, we have examined and elaborated upon the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) on a state of life embraced by many loyal followers of Christ who have freely responded to a special call to follow with radical fidelity the way of life that the Lord Himself led. These generous…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. I know the word “friend” appears many times in the Bible, but sometimes it is capitalized. For example, at daily Mass today there was a reading from 1st Maccabees which said that King Antiochus, who was about to die, “called in all his Friends” to tell them of his tribulations, and he chose Philip, “one of his Friends,” to…Continue Reading

The New Jerusalem

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Second Sunday Of Advent (YR C) Readings: Baruch 5:1-9 Phil. 1:4-6, 8-11; Luke 3:1-6 In the Gospel reading today we hear about the preaching of St. John the Baptist. However, unlike what we read in the other Gospels, St. Luke does not record the Baptist as saying that he is the voice in the desert calling…Continue Reading

Irish Priest In Kenya . . . Describes What The Pope Will Find

By KATHLEEN NAAB (Editor’s Note: Fr. Conor Donnelly is a priest of the Prelature of Opus Dei, a medical graduate from University College Dublin, and has a doctorate in theology from the University of Navarre. He has lived for 10 years in Manila, 12 in Singapore, and has been in Nairobi for ten years. (In the November 17 interview below…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Blessed Maria Virgo

By CAROLE BRESLIN When I visited my aunt in St. Louis, Mo., we would visit the basilicas, the museums, and other places of interest. She had many sites near her that were particularly special to her, such as her parish, The Little Flower, in Richmond Heights. In addition, she described a place where she frequently went for eucharistic adoration at…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Raphael Kalinowski

By CAROLE BRESLIN There are many terms we use in our language which are clichés. We hear people say that somebody “kicked the bucket,” meaning that he has died, or “I’ll send you to outer Mongolia,” meaning that they will ship you so far away no one will find you. Fr. Kalinowski not only went to a place just north…Continue Reading