The news today is that Pope Benedict XVI is calling on priests to enter the blogosphere and upload their ministry. The official statement is “The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in a Digital World: New Media at the Service of the Word.”

Evangel readers probably don’t need much persuasion that the internet can be an effective tool for ministry. Just off the top of my head, I remember Abraham Piper (though not speaking ex cathedra) offering a pretty convincing Six Reasons Pastors Should Blog back in 2008, and Ted Bolsinger pleading “Blog, for Christ’s Sake” in 2005.

The Pope’s arguments and encouragements come in a different register, though. For one thing, he’s the Pope, so when he says it, it’s in the headlines. Every news writer is trying to figure out a clever way to say “what’s Latin for blog?” or “Thus saith the Lord: Tweet,” or “www.GollyWowTheChurchGetsModern” or something equally stimulating.

Also, Benedict’s writing style is, you know, Benedictine: erudite, allusive, intense, orotund even in print. His characteristic range of biblical and classical allusion inform everything he writes.  Who else makes a case for blogging by alluding to Paul’s “how can they hear without someone to preach?” and ““Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel” (Insert the verb “to blog” in there and your irreverent headlines write themselves!)

Other pull quotes of note:

Gathered and called by the Word, the Church is the sign and instrument of the communion that God creates with all people, and every priest is called to build up this communion, in Christ and with Christ.

Priests present in the world of digital communications should be less notable for their media savvy than for their priestly heart, their closeness to Christ. This will not only enliven their pastoral outreach, but also will give a “soul” to the fabric of communications that makes up the “Web”.

...I encouraged leaders in the world of communications to promote a culture of respect for the dignity and value of the human person. This is one of the ways in which the Church is called to exercise a “diaconia of culture” on today’s “digital continent”.

Just as the prophet Isaiah envisioned a house of prayer for all peoples (cf. Is 56:7), can we not see the web as also offering a space – like the “Court of the Gentiles” of the Temple of Jerusalem – for those who have not yet come to know God?

May the Lord make all of you enthusiastic heralds of the Gospel in the new “agorà” which the current media are opening up.

I was going to make a list of pastors who make good use of new media (blogs, facebook, and twitter in particular) for ministry purposes, but, gripped with the fear of leaving somebody out, I’ll ask for good recommendations in the comments. I’m especially interested in specifically pastoral and church-based examples, rather than all the other kinds of swell Christian internet usage.

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