Each year on the day of the liturgical feast of the Archangels (Sept. 29), the Vatican announces the theme for the annual World Communications Day, which takes place in most countries on the Sunday before Pentecost. World Communications Day is the only worldwide celebration called for by the Second Vatican Council, whose “Decree on the Media of Social Communications” (Inter Mirifica) was published 50 years ago this December.
The papal message for the Day is traditionally published on the memorial of St. Francis de Sales, patron of writers (January 24). The theme highlights a particular concern in the interaction between faith and the media, and the compilation of these messages – 47 so far (archived here) – represents a treasure of theological thinking applied to the ever-changing and ever more influential world of social communications.
Here at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary, two related announcements are in the works: the launch of the newly-designed website (coming in October) and the inauguration of the John Cardinal Foley Chair of Homiletics and Social Communications.
As the first incumbent of the Cardinal Foley Chair, I’ll have the opportunity to write and speak about the new digital world. In his last apostolic letter, Blessed John Paul II described the digital world as “the first Areopagus of modern times” because “Ours is an age of global communication in which countless moments of human existence are either spent with, or at least confronted by, the different processes of the mass media” (“The Rapid Development,” no. 3).
Like St. Paul in the original Areopagus (Acts 17:16-34), and like Cardinal Foley in his more than 20 years at the helm of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, I look forward to making use of the media of our time to contribute to the Church’s mission of sharing the Gospel message. For students here, as well as other groups throughout the country, I hope to engage them, virtually and really, in the new world of CyberTheology! It’s a world where people are enthralled by the wonders of ever-improving technology. More importantly, it’s a veritable culture that both creates and expresses a new understanding of ourselves, others, and the world in which we live.
On a regular basis, I hope to offer here a weekly view into this digital culture, including a look back 50 years at the prescient teaching at Vatican II. I’ll do this from the “casual” perspective of the seminarians’ blog, a communications tool that is an increasingly important medium. Consider this statistic from the most recent CARA Report (2012) about Catholic media use in the United States: “Sixty-three percent of respondents who follow Catholic blogs agree ‘somewhat’ or ‘strongly’ that they do so to get a balance from secular news sources” (page 3.) And if you were wondering, 63% equates to roughly 36.7 million adult Catholics!
We’re glad you’re one of those followers and we hope you visit this blog often.
Featured image from KofC.org