It’s the stuff of science fiction, of a dark and dreary Dean Koontz novel:
Vatican Invites Bloggers to Rome;
Blogosphere Falls Silent
Where Is Everybody?
Actually, the bloggers I’ve met are still bustling, but on a different front. Unchained from their desks, some are already crossing the Pond, flying home to tell their stories at a later date. Most of the Catholic writers I’ve met, though, are out on the streets, savoring the sweet secrets of fragrant flower stalls in the Piazza Vittorio, indulging in gelato, touring, shopping, praying, and most of all networking. The Catholic writers have let their keyboards fall silent.
It’s not that I wasn’t absolutely delighted to attend the Vatican Blogfest! The breadth of knowledge, the sheer creativity—the participles and gerunds and appositives!—in that room were palpable.
But today is not the time to sit alone with one’s thoughts. Today is the time to share stories with peers, to listen at the feet of the masters, to interact with people from around the country and around the world. Tomorrow, we write.
I do have a few factoids that demand release, though!
- First, the Vatican announced a new integrated platform, news.va, which will bring together information from all the Vatican websites into a single communications tool. The web portal is still under construction, but will include the Fides news agency, L’Osservatore Romano, www.intermirifica.net, news of the day from Curial offices, various Twitter channels, YouTube, Radio Vaticana, Flickr, music, and more. No target date as yet for launch.
- World Youth Day is in need of volunteers, many of whom are managing the web presence from their native countries. To get involved, contact Eva Janosikova, email@example.com.
- Thomas Peters (AmericanPapist) got a wild applause from the audience for his question regarding early release of embargoed information to Catholic bloggers, and not just to credentialed reporters from the mainstream media. Thomas pointed out that faithful Catholic writers find themselves rushing to research stories, based on information released in the New York Times or other outlets.
Father Federico Lombardi acknowledged the important role of the Catholic bloggers and assured us that the Vatican wants to partner with them—the Vatican as institutional communicator, the bloggers more personally—in providing an integral service to the Church in the world. He spoke of the blogosphere as “borderless” media, and he surprised us by disclosing that he reads a summary of our blogposts each morning to find out what’s going on in the world!
Elizabeth Scalia (The Anchoress) spoke of Catholic clarity and Catholic charity:
Even as more-mainstream media outlets attempt to downplay blogs and blogging as being a force for nothing much beyond self-promotion, the pope has been ahead of the curve, urging priests, religious and lay folk to embrace social media as a powerful means of evangelization, and a source of Catholic clarity in a very noisy, confused and divided world. Catholic clarity, of course, cannot be disseminated without a measure of charity, and charity can sometimes be the biggest challenge we face in new media.
Elizabeth pointed to the twofold role of the Catholic blogger to disseminate information, and to correct information (as when the media reported that the Pope approved condom use).
There were lighter revelations: The Pope will address the crew of the space shuttle on its final mission. Fr. Roderick Vonhögen (SQPN) sought to reach out to readers from his parish in the Dutch countryside, and he did so by blogging first about Star Wars.
There was more, so much more—but how to impart, in 1,000 words or less, the fruit of four hours of rapid-fire presentations? The conversation will continue—between the institutional Church and the writers, and within the community of bloggers. I’ll tell you more, too, as the days pass.
May God be glorified.