VATICAN CITY — The Church needs active members who blog, but Catholic bloggers also need the Church, especially to remind them of the virtue of charity needed in their writing, said participants at a Vatican meeting May 2, sponsored by the pontifical councils for culture and for social communications.
The councils accepted requests to attend, then drew the names of the 150 participants once the requests were divided according to geography, language and whether the blog was personal or institutional.
Richard Rouse, an official at the culture council, said news of the Vatican meeting already has encouraged other Church officials to begin a dialogue with local bloggers.
The Vatican meeting, he said, was not designed as a how-to seminar, and it was not aimed at developing a code of conduct, but rather to acknowledge the role of blogs in modern communications and to start a dialogue between the bloggers and the Vatican.
Father Roderick Vonhogen, a Dutch priest and author of "Katholiek Leven" ("Catholic Life"), told the meeting that blogging "allows me to be a shepherd for people who need one, not those who already have one" because they are active in a parish.
"If you write a blog post and no one comments, you feel miserable ... alone and isolated," he said. The comments let the writer and readers experience being part of a community.
But, it's only when you have established interest and friendship that you can bring someone to faith, Father Vonhogen said.
Elizabeth Scalia, who writes "The Anchoress," said that while the mainstream media tend to view blogs as "little more than a means of self-promotion," the Catholic blogs generally are real sources of "Catholic clarity." But bloggers can't claim to be purveyors of clarity unless they do so with charity, she said.
"Charity is one of the biggest challenges we face," she said, because "freedom is both a gift and a source of temptation for our egos."
Scalia said that the Catholic blogosphere is host to too much "us and them" on both the conservative and liberal sides of the Church. As Catholics, she said, "we have no business fostering enemies."
"The Church needs us," Scalia said. "It needs us for evangelization. It needs us to disseminate information and often to correct information."
"The Church needs us to be where the sheep are grazing," but at the same time, bloggers need the Church and its pastors to remind them that God's mercy reaches out to all people and that Jesus wants His followers to be united, she said.
-- Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service
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FROM THE PASTORS
Read and listen to homilies posted regularly by pastors at parishes within the Diocese of Charlotte:
- Fr. Frank Cancro at Queen of the Apostles
- Fr. Patrick Earl at St. Peter in Charlotte
- Fr. John Eckert at St. John the Baptist in Tryon
- Fr. Timothy Reid at St. Ann in Charlotte
- Fr. Benjamin Roberts at Our Lady of Lourdes in Monroe
- Fr. Patrick Winslow at St. Thomas Aquinas in Charlotte
- Watch full Masses live and on demand, listen to homilies and reflections from Sacred Heart Church in Salisbury
- Listen to homilies from St. William Catholic Church in Murphy