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Coming Soon: National Youth Sunday, 2009?

But at the bottom of the stack was a large, colorful manual filled with pretty pictures. This, of course, was her religion book.

Barron's tale stands as the perfect metaphor for the online religious world. Many online sectors—news, sports, politics, and popular culture—produce content that is smart, articulate, and rich. Yet when the Church presents Catholicism online, the result is often a watered down, comic-book version of the faith. Instead, she should be confident that young people are hungry for truth in all of its depth and fullness, just as they are in other areas of their life.

Third, intentional dialogue. If there's one thing that grounds this new media revolution, it's conversation. Young people today expect content that is open to commentary. They want to respond and discuss every topic under the sun. So if they find someone standing on a digital corner roaring to others through a megaphone, they'll pass on by. They'll move on, continuing to look for a vibrant, active community.

Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are today's three most popular online tools not because they offer insightful and important content, but because all of their content acts as a springboard for dialogue. For a Church desperate to connect with young Catholics, these tools can establish relationships and open lines of communication that have long been closed.

Overall, the Church may have a little catching up to do when it comes to new media, but the outlook is hopeful.

Many cardinals, bishops, and priests have started blogging and using Twitter. And more laypeople are embarking on the digital continent every day. The Pope has even sent out the first papal tweet and the Vatican, with their News.va site, is embracing new media, too.

To the extent that she creates new media that is beautiful, smart, and open to dialogue, the Church will reconnect with young people across the world.

10/4/2011 4:00:00 AM