Why Pope Benedict did not come to the Blogfest. The man who masterminded the Blogfest at The Vatican Part Three


The biggest challenge in organising the Blogmeet was that “it was hard to keep it focused. It was a meeting between the Vatican, between the Universal Church, bloggers, social communicators and media experts, between priests and laity.”
It was a timely meeting because, as Rouse explains, “blogging is a strong factor in community life today, so it is appropriate that the Church becomes aware of this. It’s part of the transition by the Universal Church to take into account the cultural values that are part of the new media reality, the ability not to control everything but to appear, to participate, to talk and to listen.”
On the day, Rouse was pleased to see that the bloggers did most of the work and made interesting suggestions, such as Thomas Peters’s question about whether the Vatican would make bloggers privy to embargoed documents. Rouse says that many of the ideas brought into the open by the bloggers had already been on the minds of the Vatican staff. Rouse thought it a good idea to address the elephant in the room; that the internet accommodates believers and non-believers. The Vatican invited a potentially explosive mixture of atheist bloggers and the Church's social media experts, but on the day this proved to be a happy mix.

Fr Vonhögen spoke about how he harnesses social media for the purpose of sowing the seeds of faith and said that through the internet he has “a worldwide parish”. Atheist bloggers were free to ask questions or voice opinions from the floor – and write what they liked online.

Did Rouse expect the Pope to come to the meeting and greet the bloggers? He says that Benedict XVI’s schedule was too busy as it was just after the beatification of John Paul II. It also was felt that, since the Pope had recently met journalists, it wasn’t appropriate to then meet a room full of bloggers.  “What does this say about journalists?” Rouse asks. “That their accreditation, their professional standards and virtues, their ethics, are to be treated on a par with bloggers, some of whom just copy and paste, some of whom show very little ethical prudence? This was part of the reason the invitation was not sent upstairs to the Pope.” 
This is from an article I wrote for The Catholic Herald for its August 5th Print Edition. 

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