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On this All Saints day, what better time to showcase a possible future saint of our time. 15-year-old Carlo Acutis, who died of leukemia in 2006, is today being considered by his native Archdiocese of Milan for a possible future beatification and, indeed, canonisation.
The first step towards that is determining if he lived a life of heroic virtue, which may lead to him being granted the title Venerable.
The website that young Carlo made is still up today and maps Eucharistic miracles across the world and throughout history.
Listen to Msgr. Paul Tighe’s excellent and entertaining keynote address at the Catholic New Media Conference taking place in Boston this weekend.
It offers an interesting glimpse behind the scenes of the Holy See’s new media endeavours, as well as the way in how they want to relate to and work with us Catholic bloggers and other users of social media (from the Pope down to the average joe sharing his thoughts with the wider world via the Internet).
Msgr. Paul Tighe is the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and as such he has been involved with the creation of the papal Twitter account, the News.va website, the Pope app, and other social media efforts.
Find more reports, blogs, podcasts and other information about the CNMC at SQPN.com.
Photo credit: George Martell – Pilot New Media Office, © Archdiocese of Boston 2013
September 17, 2013 in From Rome, social media | Tags: books, communication, ebook, education, evangelisation, facebook, media, pontifical council for social communications, pope benedict xvi, priesthood, social media, twitter, world communications day | Leave a comment
The Pontifical Council for Social Communications today launched the collected Messages for World Communications Day that Pope Benedict XVI wrote during his pontificate. And the interesting thing is that the Council does so in the form of a free eBook. Via this link you can download the book for both Apple/Android and Kindle.
Pope Benedict’s World Communications Day messages, which may also be read for free via the Vatican website, are essential reading for all Catholics who are involved in some way in communications and media. And that includes all of us who even have just a Twitter or Facebook account.
In his messages, Pope Benedict covered numerous topics, revealed in the titles of the eight documents:
The Media: A Network for Communication, Communion and Cooperation
- Children and the Media: A Challenge for Education
- The Media: At the Crossroads between Self-Promotion and Service. Searching for the Truth in order to Share it with Others
- New Technologies, New Relationships. Promoting a Culture of Respect, Dialogue and Friendship
- The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in a Digital World: New Media at the Service of the Word
- Truth, Proclamation and Authenticity of Life in the Digital Age
- Silence and Word: Path of Evangelization
- Social Networks: portals of truth and faith; new spaces for evangelization
As such, the new eBook is an anthology of sorts, a collection of the emeritus Pope’s thoughts on modern communications for Catholics. As I said, required reading.
Photo credit: AP Photo/L’Osservatore Romano, HO
September 1, 2013 in social media, World Church | Tags: abraham, bishop franz-josef bode, bishop johannes wübbe, bishop norbert werbs, bishop theodor kettmann, consecration, diocese of osnabrück, god, heraldry, hope, letter to the romans | 1 comment
This afternoon will see the consecration of Bishop Johannes Wübbe, who will be auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Osnabrück and titular bishop of Ros Cré. The Mass, in which the new bishop will be consecrated by Bishop Franz-Josef Bode, ordinary of Osnabrück, and Bishops Norbert Werbs, auxiliary of Hamburg, and Theodor Kettmann, emeritus auxiliary of Osnabrück, will be streamed life from three o’clock local time via the diocesan website.
Bishop Wübbe’s coat of arms, displayed below, takes inspiration from his background: the ear of grain taken from the coat of arms of his native Lengerich, and the wheel which also appears in the coat of Osnabrück. The motto that Bishop Wübbe chose is derived from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans: “In spe credere” refers to the line “Abraham, then, believed, hoping against hope; and thus became the father of many nations” (4:18).
This line is further explained in the following verses (20-25):
“Counting on the promise of God, he did not doubt or disbelieve, but drew strength from faith and gave glory to God, fully convinced that whatever God promised he has the power to perform.
This is the faith that was reckoned to him as uprightness. And the word ‘reckoned’ in scripture applies not only to him; it is there for our sake too — our faith, too, will be ‘reckoned’ because we believe in him who raised from the dead our Lord Jesus who was handed over to death for our sins and raised to life for our justification.”
God’s promise is not without reason, and it is certainly not impossible for Him. Abraham’s example shows us that, in faith, we may always have hope. Abraham certainly did not know how God would make him the father of many nations, and in many cases we will not know hom God will fulfill His promises. But that is no reason not to hope. But having hope is not only something we are invited to do, it will also be reckoned as a measure of our faith.
Faith leads to hope. Faith is made visible through the hope we have and share.
June 20, 2013 in Catholic Church in the Netherlands, social media | Tags: bishop frans wiertz, bishop hugo van steekelenburg, bishop josé carlos brandão cabral, bishop joseph oudeman, bishop theo van ruijven, bishop wim de bekker, brazil, diocese of almenara, franciscan order, mission, pilgrimage, pope francis, world youth day | Leave a comment
Yesterday, Pope Francis accepted the resignation of the bishop of Almenara in Brazil. Bishop Hugo van Steekelenburg reached the retirement age of 75 in October of last year, and was one of four Dutch bishops serving in foreign dioceses*.
Bishop van Steekelenburg was born near The Hague and come to Brazil in 1964, as a Franciscan missionary. Of this time he recalled in a 2011 interview:
“Most of us came to Brazil as missionaries. Almost all left for the interior. They worked there on the request of the local bishop and took on every task. I remember I felt like a real missionary. Electricity was still unknown and the roads were impassable. Almost everything had to be done by horse. There were already many Franciscans active in the area where I am now a bishop. No missionaries came from the Netherlands after about 1968. An increasing number of parishes were transferred to local clergy.”
The same interview mentions that virtually no retired missionaries choose to return to their native Netherlands. After 49 years in Brazil, and 14 as a bishop, “Dom Hugo” may decide to stay as well, in the country and among the people that he took on as his own.
In the final months before his retirement, Bishop Hugo (pictured above at left during a November 5 meeting with Roermond’s Bishop Frans Wiertz) and the Diocese of Almenara were looking forward to the arrival of a group of Dutch pilgrims who will spend a week there, before travelling to Brazil for the World Youth Day. In the style of the retired bishop, the pilgrims will be participating in a “missionary week”, visiting several diocesan projects – schools, land reclamation projects, care centres and hospitals – and cultural events. Bishop emeritus van Steekelenburg will most likely still participate in the scheduled meeting with the pilgrims, as his successor, Dom José Carlos Brandão Cabral, will probably not have been consecrated before then.
*The remaining three are Bishop Willem de Bekker of Paramaribo, Suriname; Bishop Joseph Oudeman, auxiliary bishop of Brisbane, Australia; and Bishop Theo van Ruijven, Vicar Apostolic of Nekemte, Ethiopia.
Vatican Insider today triumphantly reported that an EU-wide pro-life initiative is unexpectedly successful in “the seriously secularised Netherlands”. While the news is certainly a surprise, it is also perhaps a bit too triumphalistic in tone. In a country with almost 17 million inhabitants, 20,00o signatures do not represent an overwhelming ground swell of support for the protection of unborn life. The fact remains that abortion is largely accepted as a medical procedure in the Netherlands.
‘One of Us’ is, all the same, a worthwhile initiative to support, as it aims to protect human life from its earliest beginnings:
“Based on the definition of the human embryo as the beginning of the development of the human being, which was given in a recent ECJ judgment (Brüstle vs. Greenpeace), “One of Us” asks the EU to end the financing of activities which presuppose the destruction of human embryos, in particular in the areas of research, development aid and public health.”
If you’re a citizen of the European Union, you too can add your signature to the initiative, which needs to collect 1 million of them, from at least 7 member states, before November 1st in order to propose legislation to the European Commission. Last week, the 500,000th signature was registered.
Go to One of Us and sign! As Christians, we have an obligation to protect life, for we believe in God, who is the very opposite of death.
(And seriously, Vatican Insider, that photo to accompany the article?)
“I join all those marching for life from afar, and pray that political leaders will protect the unborn and promote a culture of life.”
With this tweet, his 27th since the launch of his account, Pope Benedict XVI makes full use of what Twitter is for. Although his other tweets are undoubtedly worthwhile and eloquent, this is the first time that he makes a direct comment on something as it happens. In this case it is the March for Life taking place in Washington DC right now: tens of thousands of people are marching for the protection of unborn children, and they so as a dignified, optimistic and powerful witness for the sanctity of all human life.
May this powerful witness, which goes against the stream of modern secular thought, serve as an example for those countries, my own included, where the killing of the unborn has become largely accepted as a standard medical procedure. May the prayers in the United States also strengthen our own, that conversion of hearts may lead to the protection of all children, rich or poor, here or elsewhere, born or unborn.
Below an impression of part of the large number of people in Washington:
The Holy See today released Pope Benedict’s Message for the 47th World Communications Day, which deals with the topic of social networks, This is in itself a natural progression from the topics of previous messages, which the Holy Father all devoted to what he called the “digital continent”, the Internet, which is an area to be evangelised, just like any physical part of the world.
As ever, the Communications Day Message is eagerly expected by many Catholics who are active in social media, and I am no exception. The message is not long (only some 1,600 words), so my Dutch translation is already up on the Translations page.
Pope Benedict sees the social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook as “a new “agora”, an open public square in which people share ideas, information and opinions, and in which new relationships and forms of community can come into being.” This potent mixture can lead to true communication, friendship, communion, but that requires authenticity, because we don’t just share ideas and information, “but ultimately our very selves”.
This shows us that the pope takes social networks very seriously. It’s not just something on the side, to be used when we need it for work or entertainment: “The digital environment is not a parallel or purely virtual world, but is part of the daily experience of many people, especially the young.”
The Holy Father calls us to be authentic Christians on the social networks, to be who we are. “It is natural for those who have faith to desire to share it, respectfully and tactfully, with those they meet in the digital forum.” This indicates how we should express ourselves online:
“At times the gentle voice of reason can be overwhelmed by the din of excessive information and it fails to attract attention which is given instead to those who express themselves in a more persuasive manner. The social media thus need the commitment of all who are conscious of the value of dialogue, reasoned debate and logical argumentation; of people who strive to cultivate forms of discourse and expression which appeal to the noblest aspirations of those engaged in the communication process. Dialogue and debate can also flourish and grow when we converse with and take seriously people whose ideas are different from our own. “Given the reality of cultural diversity, people need not only to accept the existence of the culture of others, but also to aspire to be enriched by it and to offer to it whatever they possess that is good, true and beautiful” (Address at the Meeting with the World of Culture, Bélem, Lisbon, 12 May 2010).”
A final important point in the message is that social networks can also help those faithful who are, for some reason or other, rather isolated: “social networks can reinforce their sense of real unity with the worldwide community of believers. The networks facilitate the sharing of spiritual and liturgical resources, helping people to pray with a greater sense of closeness to those who share the same faith.”
An interesting film which reveals the spirituality behind the duties of altar servers., which are not just some tasks which need doing. Like so many elements of our Catholic life, it is based in a well-developed spirituality, and in turn, feeds that spirituality on a very personal level.
This is one of the beautiful things about our faith: holiness is achievable by simply doing it. Physical actions, like the speaker in the film says, can help us achieve an inner disposition on the road to personal holiness.
We live in an age where people appreciate spirituality, the transcending elements that we can strive for. Often, this appreciation is manifested in the popularity of self-help books, paranormal events and elements of the eastern religions. Our own Catholic faith also has spirituality on offer, a spirituality which is mature, deep and continuously challenging, but which is attainable for all of us if we would just devote some time and effort to it.
HT to Fr. Dwight Longenecker.
January 8, 2013 in social media, World Church | Tags: catholic church, catholic identity, creed, ecumenism, faith, hans kronenburg, icann, internet, jesus christ, protestantism, reformed church, saudi arabia | 2 comments
An article on RD.nl by Reformed minister Dr. Hans Kronenburg (pictured) challenges the efforts by the Catholic Church to register the domain name extension .catholic. He identifies it as “nothing but a conscious or subconscious digital coup”. From a Protestant point of view he is absolutely right, but from a Catholic one he couldn’t be more wrong.
The .catholic extension, if granted by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the regulatory body responsible for these things, would be allowed to be used only by institutions, groups, individuals and societies which are in good standing with the Catholic Church. Basically, the Church will have the final say if any group or person may use the extension. This would, of course, offer some control over the Catholic ‘brand’. It offers some surety that a website using the extension .catholic is, in fact, that. There are, after all, some responsibilities that come with calling yourself ‘Catholic’.
What are the problems that Dr. Kronenburg has with what he calls a coup or power grab by the Church? The core of the problem is as follows, in his own words, translated by me:
“It is the same old song again: a church which forms just one branch of the one holy catholic and apostolic church, namely the Roman Catholic, appropriates something that belongs to the church of Christ as a whole, as it is confessed in the Creed of Nicea-Constantinople (381).”
He also shares and agrees with three points of the complaint lodged with ICANN by Saudi Arabia (of all nations). 1) The church claims the name Catholic, while other churches do likewise, 2) Ecumenically speaking, it is not done to give one church control over the name ‘catholic’ when it is not authorised to do so by other churches, and 3) there are questions about the ‘catholicity’ of the Catholic Church, since she alone considers herself fully Catholic. That is not universal, but sectarian. According to Dr. Kronenburg.
Generally, it is easy to agree with at least the first point above. There is a problem when multiple churches, rightly or wrongly, claim to be catholic. In their own understanding, if not that of the Catholic Church, they are catholic.
Points two and three are, frankly, nonsensical. Ecumenism, as mentioned in point two, is about finding common ground and a growth towards unity in the one Church of Christ. It is pertinently not about changing identities, which is what happens if one church is told by another what she can or can not call herself. Point three is very much related to the understanding of the term ‘Catholic’, and that is the very core of the problem, as I mentioned above.
Catholic is a term that indicates the universality of the Church, in both time and space. Jesus Christ established His Church, which is composed of all the faithful and which has a clear structure. Here is where the Catholic and Protestant understanding depart: The unity and universality of the Church is made visible in the form she takes here and now. Christ established a Church composed of faithful, certainly, but also gave them shepherds and means to exercise authority. Over time, but fairly soon, that has coalesced into the hierarchy and the teaching authority of the Catholic Church. In various ways, the Protestant church communities, but also the Orthodox Churches, which have remained close to us in other ways, have departed from this structure. The Protestant church communities are Catholic in that they share our faith in many ways. There are also basic differences, to the detriment of their claim of ‘catholicity’. The Catholic Church is truly Catholic in that she has not only kept the faith in Christ, but also the unity, both invisibly and very visibly, that Christ prayed for.
Dr. Kronenburg’s claim that the Catholic Church is just one branch of the one Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church that we confess in the Creed is therefore not true. If she was a branch, she would have been at most a variation on one basic trunk: the faith that Christ gave us. There would be only negligible differences with the other branches. The problem is that these differences are not negligible. Dr. Kronenburg’s own Reformed Church, for example, does not constitute a different branch, but a different trunk of the same tree altogether. The faith of the different churches and church communities may share similarities, but they are by no means equal. To claim that is to neglect the major differences in teaching, understanding and faith that still exist.
And besides all this, there is the logic of domain name extensions. A Protestant website using the extension .catholic would be rather confusing. Even an Orthodox website ending in .catholic, which would have a better claim to the name, would cause confusion.
Photo credit: RD, Anton Dommerholt