Monday, 2 May 2011
Live from the first ever meeting between the Vatican and the world's bloggers - part 2
During the first panel discussion at this afternoon's meeting between the Vatican and bloggers, the moderator, Rocco Palmo (Whispers in the Loggia) reminded us that such an initiative as this could only have been possible because of the Pope's Petrine Ministry. It proved, not only to those of us in the room, but to all bloggers around the world, that the Holy Father has a special interest in the new media. He also mentioned two bloggers present: Hilary White, who is living with cancer, and the other, James Bradley (The Ordinariate Portal), who will be ordained a Catholic deacon this coming Saturday.
The panel included Francois Jeanne-Beylot, Andres Beltramo, Elizabeth Scalia, Fr Roderick Vonhogen and Matia Marasso. Some of the issues covered ranged from the need for bloggers and journalists to provide additional information to what is available from the traditional media to the infinite possibilities of the internet. Elizabeth Scalia warned about the dangers of the internet, and how it can quickly wall in our minds. "This can constrict our charity," she warned. I, for one, agree with her - the internet can feed the ego so infinitely, that we who use it can become closed in on ourselves and live in a world where we choose to feed our own failings. She jokingly said that she, for one, has had to go to confession more frequently since she started blogging! I know where she was coming from - and it reminds me of something that Charles Moore once said, "Whenever I go to confession, my first words are, 'bless me Father, for I am a journalist!" She also said that Catholic bloggers needed to be seen to be more united, rather than being divided, for our faith is one of unity, not factionalism. One of the other panellists also said that bloggers shouldn't be afraid to emphasise or offer information or opinions that the traditional media or the Church might shy away from.
One panellist explained that blogging is now part of his day-to-day life, and if he's not updating his own blog every day, then he is reading someone else's blog. He went on to explain that blogs introduces us to information and opinions that we might not come across in other places. The first victory that blogs had was to broaden the concept of participation, so all can now play a role in disseminating information. It can free the individual to express him or herself, and to participate in offering opinions on Catholicism or on global events. Fr Roderick Vonhogen (SPQN) spoke about how and why he started blogging - 15 years ago, as a newly ordained priest. He was in a small parish, that only had one telephone box. His first posts were about Star Wars, and within months tens of thousands were visiting his site every day. Since then, he came to realise that a priest could share his faith with many more people on the blogosphere, than by communicating it only amongst his parishioners. By blogging, he can reach thousands of people, most of whom are not Catholic; by preaching in his parish, he reaches hundreds, but all of whom are already believers. By blogging, he can be a shepherd for the people who need one, not only those who already have one. He also emphasised how blogging is a means of social communication, where friendships can be formed and dialogues opened. Personal connections can be made on blogs, and for a priest, that means that he can be a shepherd that knows his sheep by name, one by one.
Finally, Francois Jeanne-Beylot said that he was proud to be a Catholic this afternoon, and reminded us that it was good that is was the Vatican, the "institution", that had invited us here. The first move in this discussion came from the Church, and we bloggers need to respond positively. He also said, that as Catholics need to make our voices heard on the internet - and that means being loud about or faith. In fact, Francois Jeanne-Beylot said that Our Lord himself would have used the internet today, as opposed to preaching from a boat on Lake Galilee. Our message, in union with Christ's, must go out into the world, and beyond the blogosphere.
It had just been announced that because so many people are using the internet here, the connection is slowing down, so live video feeds will now only be available on Fr Roderick's site: SQPN.
I am also running low on battery power, and will soon have to leave the conference, to go and catch a flight home...So, I will sign off for now, but should be able to write more later on this evening.
Thank you for your support during the past few days, both with kind comments and by your prayers. I kept all my readers in prayer before the tomb of St Ignatius Loyola this morning.