Church Documents on Modern Communications

Popes and Church Experts Urge Use of the “Net”

Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

Catholics have both an opportunity and obligation to use the media — and that includes the Internet. But have they done so?

The late theologian and author, Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J., has said that Catholics “must be aroused from their sleep of lethargy” to use the media for the extension of Christ’s kingdom. (“The Urgent Call to Evangelization — Using the Electronic Media to Proclaim Christ,” The Catholic Faith magazine.)

Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict spoke of the “digital continent” in his 2009 World Day of Communications. He said, “I ask you to introduce into the culture of this new environment of communications and information technology the values on which you have built your lives.”

He also said, “The accessibility of mobile telephones and computers, combined with the global reach and penetration of the internet, has opened up a range of means of communication that permit the almost instantaneous communication of words and images…”
— 2009 World Day of Communications

Vatican II

The Vatican II document Inter Mirifica said that the Church recognizes that if properly utilized, the press, TV, radio, movies and other media,“ can be of great service to mankind, since they greatly contribute to men’s entertainment and instruction as well as to the spread and support of the Kingdom of God.”

Pope John Paul II

Pope John Paul II urged Catholics to use the Internet. In 2002 he issued a Church document, Internet: A New Forum for Proclaiming the Gospel. He said,

We must enter into this modern and ever more replete communications network with realism and confidence, convinced that, if it is used with competence and conscientious responsibility, it can offer useful opportunities for spreading the Gospel message.

Even more recently, in this apostolic letter, Rapid Development,Pope John Paul II said that today’s “powerful media,” if used by believers “can facilitate the communication of the Gospel and render the bonds of communion among ecclesial communities more effective.” (Jan. 2005, No. 6) In this document, John Paul also cites Vita Consecrata (No. 8):

Consecrated persons belonging to institutions having the charism of using the mass media have a particular responsibility in this regard. Spiritually and professionally formed towards this end, these institutions, “should willingly lend their help, wherever pastorally appropriate […] in order to offset the inappropriate use of the media and to promote higher quality programmes, the contents of which will be respectful of the moral law and rich in human and Christian values.”

Diocesan Vocation Director

More locally, Rev. John Regan, a diocesan vocation director with much experience in promoting vocations, urged Catholics, “If vocation ministers are to affect the youth culture today, they must be Internet savvy.” (“The Internet and Vocation Awareness,” 2002 Third Continental Congress on Vocations)

He also said,

Why is the Internet important to vocation ministry? The web is the place where most young people get their information and a primary means by which they communicate. …The Internet provides a relatively inexpensive way to connect with many, many people.

As Pope John Paul II has said, “Do not be afraid of new technologies!” (Rapid Development, No. 14)

Read in depth!

Clickable Document Author What it covers
Inter Mirifica Vatican II The Church’s foundational document on the role of the media in the modern world

Internet: A New Forum for Proclaiming the Gospel Pope John Paul II Strong encouragement to use the Internet for evangelization

“The Internet and Vocation Awareness” (pdf) Rev. John Regan Guidlines on how to promote vocations with the Internet

Rapid Development Pope John Paul II Review of how the Church has progressed since Inter Mirifica


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