Social Media’s Impact on the Church


Milwaukee’s Archbishop Listecki

I received an email from my Archbishop about a week ago.  You can read the text of the letter here in blog form,

The contents of the email and the blog addresses the priest sexual abuse scandal, its impact on those affected, what the diocese did about it and what they continue to do about it.

This blog is about the intersection of the church and technology.   Its not appropriate here for me to address the content of this message, but I do want to speak to the process.

Only a few years ago, assuming the diocese wanted to get a message out, what did they do?  I recall sitting in Mass listening to a cassette recording of the Archbishop talking about various issues.  I recall our Parish Priest reading a letter from the Archbishop (of course that happened at the end of Mass when everyone was looking at their watched trying to get home in time for the Packer’s kickoff).  I recall occasional letters being inserted in the bulletin or mailed to my home.  This may be the first email I received from the Archdiocese giving me a rather unfiltered message.

In this era of 24X7 connectivity, the Internet is exactly where this message needs to be.  The diocese also took an important step and left the comments open on the blog.  As important as it is for the Archbishop to get his message out, its equally important to listen too.

Now some will say the courts ordered this information to be public and that may or may not be the case.  I really don’t know.  Either way, this email, concerning these horrific events, tells me that a new era of transparency and openness may indeed be coming.  To a degree Social Media is driving this openness.  The Internet and Social Media is changing our expectations in terms of communication frequency, openness, and two-way dialogue.  This can be scary, its not without risk, but oh gosh is their opportunity!  And from this openness and transparency also comes accountability.

I applaud the Milwaukee diocese’s efforts to make this information public.  For the abuse survivors, their families, and even for the church it is only a small step, but it is indeed a step in the right direction.


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Author:Joe Luedtke

Joe Luedtke is LPi 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.
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  • Joe Luedtke

    Here’s another example of not good news, but an open declaration of problems that exist,

  • Brad West

    I couldn’t agree more. The message (like most organizations) has always been vertical. You could simply package a message and disseminate it out and in a lot of ways controls the flow. Today it’s more horizontal and as an organization you can either get in there and become a part of the conversation and have greater influence (when done properly) or stay out. Staying out I find is mostly fear driven. I like how the Vatican has approached this and basically said that we can’t hide just because someone might say something negative. I think the Archdiocese did the right thing and I love how the message delved into the complexity of these complaints and the issue at large.