Enough to Hold Their Own Blogging Convention

In his message for World Communications Day, May 16, 2010 – getting in early – Pope Benedict XVI has issued a challenge to priests to become serious users of digital communications, including blogs (via Mashable).

With some 406,000 Catholic priests around the world, there would be more than enough to hold their own blogging convention.

We should not hold our breath.

Because, thinking about how some people “get” blogging and others don’t (or won’t), and then about how many start out but do not really persevere, you would have to wonder how many of the clergy will take up the challenge in any serious way and how many of those that do will stay the course.

A relatively small proportion on both counts, I dare say.

Not because of any wish to defy or even just ignore the Pope, but because this is a really tough challenge.

It is nothing less than a challenge to get serious about digital media and to engage with the world via digital media, not just in old analog ways.

The Pope’s message, sub-titled “The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in a Digital World: New Media at the Service of the Word”, spells out just why priests need to become active in using digital media – as we might say content creators, not passive observers.

Pope Benedict XVI challenges priests to blog

The spread of multimedia communications and its rich “menu of options” might make us think it sufficient simply to be present on the Web, or to see it only as a space to be filled. Yet priests can rightly be expected to be present in the world of digital communications as faithful witnesses to the Gospel, exercising their proper role as leaders of communities which increasingly express themselves with the different “voices” provided by the digital marketplace.

Priests are thus challenged to proclaim the Gospel by employing the latest generation of audiovisual resources (images, videos, animated features, blogs, websites) which, alongside traditional means, can open up broad new vistas for dialogue, evangelization and catechesis.

Some will surely find the challenge too difficult

I have to say that, if I were a betting man, I would lay odds that either from the outset or after a bit of experimentation, many clergy who take heed of the Pontiff’s instruction and get started with blogging will not take on the challenge with total gusto or will after a short period of experimentation stop blogging, for one or more of the following or similar reasons:

  • fear of having to engage more directly and instantly with people,
  • worry about not understanding the technology,
  • feeling they don’t have enough time,
  • not knowing the “rules of the game”
  • being worried about getting offside with authority (the bishop or religious superior, even the Vatican)

In other words, many priests who take heed of the Pope’s call, will nevertheless behave much as others do, in business, government  and the not-for-profit sector when the notion of communicating via blogging is instituted or encouraged from the top in any organisation. They will either find excuses not to start or, if they start, will be vulnerable to being discouraged and giving up.

And even among those who want to take action there will be a temptation to reach for solutions that on the face of things look easier, especially delegating the task to someone else, such as by handing over the process to someone in the parish who seems to “get” the technology, or perhaps a firm that offers outsourced blogging.

Actually, I can see a whole subset of the burgeoning social media outsourcing industry in the predominantly Catholic Philippines taking hold here (I’m only half joking ).

But I applaud the move

Basically I believe this is a very good move on the Pope’s part.  I’m such an evangelist (interesting word in this context) for blogging that I’m always enthusiastic when I see different sectors of society start to grasp how powerful blogging can be and when leaders in various sectors advocate or at least support initiatives for blogging and other use of social media.

I have a few more thoughts on this and some examples of clerical blogging, which I will share in a subsequent post.

For now, here endeth the day’s post.

Image credit: Pope Benedict XVI, World Youth Day, Sydney 2008 Visit, samherd, via Flickr Creative Commons license

 

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Des Walsh is an executive coach. He helps business owners and entrepreneurs worldwide deal effectively with the feeling of being left behind or overwhelmed, or both, about social media – especially LinkedIn - and how to engage safely and effectively with social media to help grow their business. Connect with Des on LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter. And to stay in the loop, get Des’s weekly Social Business Bites (select snippets of his "best of the week" online finds).