How bishops can use social media

The American bishops have collectively given a prime example of how prelates can use social media  such as Twitter to inform and involve their audience and flock (which is not always the same thing). They have been meeting to elect, among others, a new chairman to succeed Francis Cardinal George, and as the voting progressed, the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) has been using its Twitter account to immediately share the results. It brings the goings-on to live in a way that very few Church organs have managed to do. Blogging priests and bishops (few as they are) do it, but the impulse of an official organisation active in social media is not to be dismissed out of hand.

The Church in the United States is important in that it has a relatively strong media presence, both on the Internet and outside it. In the west especially, its bishops will be the standard bearers of a Church and a faith that continues to be marginalised, by the actions of others or itself. Who gets to lead this flock of prelates is therefore fairly influential, and it is good to see that popular, sensible and orthodox Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York won the vote for president. His election is radical in that the vote usually goes to the sitting vice-president. That would have been, in this case, Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, who has been criticised in orthodox blogs for both his perceived liberal thoughts and his handling of the case of a priest who ended up abusing a number of boys.

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