Archdiocese of the Internet

I received an email from the Austin Diocese the other day wondering if this blog operates on the approval of our diocese.  In writing back, I responded somewhat flippantly with the question, “Which diocese covers the Internet?”  The point I was trying to make was, of course, that there isn’t a diocese that covers this blog nor the Internet as the Internet has a global reach.

Later, a crazy idea crossed my mind, should there be a diocese that covers the Internet? 

Pope Benedict XVI has described the Internet as a “Digital Continent” with our mission to go forth and evangelize in this new land.  Diocese are geographic in nature, but if you think of the Internet as a virtual world as some parts of it have been described, perhaps this suggestion isn’t as far fetched as it sounds.   Today, people are increasingly spending more of their free time and consequently their lives online.  If this is where people “live”, isn’t it the church’s mission to joyful teach and spread our faith wherever we are?

Perhaps I presume to much and this may just be a crazy idea.  I’ll end this thought by mentioning that other religions may not think its all that farfetched.  Try Googling  the name of our savior “Jesus Christ” and look to see where other religions are spending advertising dollars on evangelizing their faith on this Digital Continent.

 

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Author:Joe Luedtke

Joe Luedtke is the President of the e-Giving Division for Liturgical Publications (LPi). Joe specializes in Social Media and Web 2.0 and is currently leading LPi’s efforts to move into the on-line world. Joe works for the world's largest and oldest social network, religion, and believes that this social network could benefit tremendously from the the proper use of Internet technologies.
  • Clare Zajicek

    Not to play Devil’s Advocate here, it’s an interesting idea, but it seems too daunting a task (and a little big brothery) to regulate or supervise all Catholic media on the Internet. How do you sort through the nonsense of 150,000 URLs added each day and decide which ones should follow certain guidelines? (Although, “Archbishop of the Internet” would be a great title for someone, haha)

    I think it’s increasingly important that every individual archdiocese adopt an Internet and Social Media Policy. Even on a local level they seem challenging to enforce, but they are definitely a step in the right direction.

  • http://www.catholictechtalk.com/ Joe Luedtke

    Clare, I agree completely, but the point I was trying to make was a little different. I’m not suggesting we try to “regulate or supervisor” and “enforce” the Internet, but rather I think there should be a focused effort by the church to “evangelize” and “engage” online. Your suggestion of a Social Media policy is a great one, and we’ve uncovered already a few dioceses that are doing this. Please see this article, http://catholictechtalk.com/2012/07/25/diocese-social-media-policies/, but its the evangelization and engagement where the real opportunity lies.

    • Clare Zajicek

      Ah, gottcha. Well, I do think the church (more specifically, the Pontifical Council for Social Communications) is making some effort to focus on online evangelization. Is it enough, I don’t know, but I look forward to hearing the 2013 World Communications Day message! http://www.news.va/en/news/social-networks-portals-of-truth-and-faith-new-spa

    • http://digitalcatechesis.ning.com/ Caroline Cerveny, SSJ

      Joe, what I keep discovering is that as a church we really are 30 to 35+ years behind the times when it comes to using technology at the ministry level. Why do I say this? In many other fields – law, education, medicine, and ??? those who are in training for their profession are also being trained in how to use and integrate technology into what they do. Take time to look at training for those being ordained, those in ministry – especially in the area of catechetics (religious education), lay pastoral ministers, and other areas. Ask the questions – Where in the curriculum are these folks being trained to teach and evangelize using technology? Unless we train folks how to use the tools, they do not realize what can be done! Often, they do NOT know how to use the tools or are afraid to use the tools!

      • Brad West

        You hit the proverbial nail on the head with “what I keep discovering is that as a church we really are 30 to 35+ years”, and I find a big reason being that it is often because of fear. Fear of what I really don’t know, but resistance is often about “offending someone” or someone “offending us” or just change in general.

        • http://digitalcatechesis.ning.com/ Caroline Cerveny, SSJ

          Search the Internet for “What is Fear” and you’ll come across posts like – http://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/fear! I have a friend who often says – “Feel the fear and do it anyway!” It takes courage to feel the fear and to do it! In working with our Digital Discipleship Boot Camp, I’ve learned that for those who fear – once they have supportive training and guidance in what new media is about – they become passionate users! Let’s do more training!

  • http://catholicservant.com Craig Berry

    Catchy title! And, when I heard it, I had to think about it for a minute. Hmm…could there be such a thing?

    By no means am I an expert in this topic, but off the top of my head…

    The closest I could think of is the Archdiocese for the Military. http://www.milarch.org They are not bound by geographical borders. They are in 220 military installations in 29 countries.

    Another example of a something ‘out of the ordinary’ is the Titular Diocese. Sometimes referred to as a ‘dead diocese’.

    So, we have examples of dioceses outside of time AND space.

    What IS a diocese then? I’ll let someone else run to Wikipedia or the Catholic Encyclopedia, but I believe it is a spiritual and administrative construct empowered by Holy Mother Church for the salvation of souls, specifically the celebration of the Sacraments.

    And I think that’s the rub. Sacramental Graces cannot be transmitted/received through the Internet. Around the time the telephone was invented, the Vatican ruled that Confessions over the phone were not valid.

    Although, I remember hearing that a Papal Blessing could be received through the television…I am serious. :)

    For now, we should be thankful we have a Patron Saint for the Internet – Saint Isidore of Seville

  • http://twitter.com/AustinCathMedia Austin CatholicMedia

    I find this very interesting, especially since we are from the Diocese of Austin. We do actually function with the approval of the Diocese but that’s mainly because we focus on the local area. Since our content is on the web we know that it’s reach is much farther reaching then just our corner of the world but it’s focus is for the people of Central Texas. That being said I don’t know that it’s a bad thing to have approve of your local Bishop. Because of the universality of the Church and the fair reaching idea of the internet making sure we are in line with our local Church isn’t exactly a bad thing.

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  • Brad West

    So, Joe, I gotta ask . . . did you receive a response to your question?

    • http://www.catholictechtalk.com/ Joe Luedtke

      No, but I wasn’t expecting one. However, the Austin diocese’s response below has given me pause that perhaps I should seek permission from “my” diocese, but even there I’m a little stuck. There’s two things I’m contemplating: which diocese and what if they say “no”. As one of the frequent and prolific contributors yourself Brad, do I seek your diocese’s permission or mine? Also, while I wouldn’t expect a “denied” response, if I was a diocesan official, I’d worry of approving anything I don’t have responsibility over of accountability. I think I need to talk to a few dioceses about this to find out if its common practice. This one keeps getting more interesting! Thank you all for your feedback.

      • http://catholicservant.com Craig Berry

        There was a kerfuffle last year when the Archdiocese of Detroit asked Real Catholic TV to drop ‘Catholic’ from it’s name.

        http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/real-catholic-tv-service-removes-catholic-from-new-name/

        The confusing bit is, what (Arch)Diocese has authority/jurisdiction for websites where:

        1. A company headquarters is located in one place

        2. The actual web host is located somewhere else

        3. The content producers are located somewhere else as well

        While I agree it’s a good idea to get local permission, I’m not entirely sure what ‘canonically’ requires it. For example, my Twitter handle is @CatholicServant. I have a domain name, blog and email address with ‘CatholicServant’. Or, does it only pertain to business names or places of worship?

        The bottom line is, if a local ordinary asks that someone drop the Catholic reference they should – out of obedience. In reality however, most chanceries are too busy with other things than to review the thousands of web-entities using the word ‘Catholic’.