I first posted this during Advent, but it seems even more timely now.
Pope Francis called on the faithful to use the Internet as a source of hope. Every click of the mouse, every arrow hovering over a link, can lead us either closer to or further from the Gospel. As the Holy Father said: “Guided by the Holy Spirit, we will discover valuable opportunities to lead people to the luminous face of the Lord. Among the possibilities offered by digital communication, the most important is the proclamation of the Gospel.”
Are we doing that? Or are we engaged in something else?
Put another way: are we sinning in cyberspace?
Earlier this year, the USCCB published a helpful Examination of Conscience for those returning to confession. I thought the Internet could benefit from something similar. Herewith, my own adaptation of the USCCB guideline, based on the 10 commandments and keyed specifically to life online.
We don’t want to admit it, but it’s true: the online universe is one that is often infected with what my pal Elizabeth Scalia calls “dark joy”—sarcasm, mockery, disrespect, spite. We all fall prey to it. And we all feel tempted at one time or another to invite others to join in. Too often in the blogosphere that also means mocking the Church, Her leadership, Her clergy or our fellow Christians who don’t necessarily do things the way we’d like.
So take this for what it’s worth (which, admittedly, may not be much). But I think every one—and that includes, especially, me—can benefit from thinking more deeply about what we do here online, why we do it, and what the consequences might be.
To that end, I invite you to consider An Examination of Conscience for the Internet. Check it out.
Meantime, I’m heading to confession tonight for Reconciliation Monday here in New York City. There is no better time than now to take advantage of all this sacrament offers.