I’ve been banging the drum for years now in work in Catholic social media (as have many others) that how we speak the Gospel is as important as what we say when speaking the Gospel. The Catholic Church is inherently a conservative organization and since the written word has been the privileged form of communication for, oh, since the dawn of civilization, new forms of communication have had a tough time getting traction in the Church. But if we want people to hear our message, we need to put it in a form they will hear.
Oh sure, the Church has used radio since Marconi and TV since Fulton Sheen. Pope Benedict XVI started a Twitter account and Pope Francis has expanded that to Instagram and YouTube. But the foundation is still primarily in the written text. Go to the Vatican web site and everything is words on a page.
Which isn’t to say that this is wrong. Few forms of communication are as immutable and enduring and authoritative as letters and books. But we must acknowledge that the content of the Christian faith was not something written from the beginning. Jesus did not hand out pamphlets. Instead, He conveyed truths by speaking them to individual and to crowds alike. At Mass, the priest doesn’t hand out the text of his homily. He preaches it from a pulpit.
At the most recent meeting of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops in Ft. Lauterdale, there was a discussion surrounding yet another document on an important subject. Bishop Robert Barron reported on an effort by a group of bishops to encourage their brothers to consider a different way of delivering that message, a medium appropriate to the way the people they’re trying to reach will want to receive the message.
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