Vatican Holds Brief, Yet Intense, Blogger Event
ROME, MAY 5, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Although it lasted little more than four hours including a short break, the Vatican's bloggers' meeting covered plenty of ground and was very much welcomed by most of those who participated. Above all, it provided a chance for Catholic bloggers to meet each other in person for the first time, make contacts and exchange ideas.
Opening the gathering of around 150 bloggers from around the world May 2, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli stressed that the meeting was aimed at reaching a "broader and deeper understanding" between blog writers and the Vatican. He reiterated the invitation of Benedict XVI, that there should be a "respectful" dialogue and a respect for the truth while remaining aware that "we bring to the heart the committed and passionate adherence to Christ the Lord."
In his opening remarks, Richard Rouse, an official at the Pontifical Council for Culture and chief organizer of the event, said the meeting was aimed at giving the chance for bloggers "to express your needs, your culture, your hopes, aspirations and fears, in order that the Church may, drawing on the riches of Tradition, embrace you, walk with you, and continue learning to speak in terms and ways you can understand."
Vatican correspondent Andres Beltramo, who writes a blog called "Sacro & Profano," said he sees blogging as means to engage in "freer communication" and to give "proper coverage" to what the Church says in the face of so much media misrepresentation. He urged bloggers "not to be afraid of engaging in debate, emphasizing issues to better understand them, and providing relevant information."
Elizabeth Scalia, author of the "The Anchoress" blog, noted that charity can sometimes be the biggest challenge facing international media. The Internet gives blog writers great freedom, she said, but also presents a temptation for egos -- "a true battleground for the spirit." She spoke of the danger of "walling in our hearts and minds," which can diminish charity, and said that Catholic bloggers should have "no business fostering factions among ourselves."
She looked to Benedict XVI as an example to follow, "a surprising man who is not afraid of any ideas, will talk about anything, explore any idea," she said. Scalia closed by stressing that all Catholics, despite different backgrounds, education and perspectives, are called to the oneness desired by Christ. "Let's pray that that same oneness be our defining characteristic," she said.
Father Roderick Vonhögen, founder of Star Quest Production Network (SQPN) that specializes in using audio and video to promote the teachings of the Church, emphasized the potentially enormous outreach of digital media offers. He said he sees his work as "being a shepherd of those without a shepherd, not those already with one."
Jesus, he recalled, gave the command to go and be fishers of men, "but to fish you need to have good bait," Father Vonhögen said. For this reason, he said he tries to find a common language, or common points of interest, with audiences before he starts sharing his faith. The aim, he added, is also not only "to bring others into our nets, but to the light," and only when a friendship has been created is there a connection, and it's possible to "introduce the faith."