Southern Religion

Vatican pushes for a more civil Catholic/general online conversation

While Bill Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights threw rhetoric bombs at “radical secularists” in a Washington Post comment, the Vatican aspired to a higher standard of online civility.

Italian Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, offering the example of Pope Benedict XVI’s argument that “Charity needs truth and truth needs charity,” said:

Anyone speaking publicly as a Catholic has to have those ethical values that are part of a serious, honest form of communication.

Although the focus of the Oct. 26-29 Vatican City gathering of cardinals, bishops and Catholic media professionals was the behavior of Catholics toward one another, discussion of the harsh overarching tenor of recent online communication was inevitable. In particular, Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, the head of Canada’s Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation, spoke of the “radicalization of rhetoric” on the Web. He observed that as a result of pervasively negative messages from so many online who describe themselves as Catholic, “Christians are known as the people who are against everything.”

Los Angeles Cardinal Roger M. Mahony said bishops should be models for the Catholic faithful on how to hold a civil discussion, online or offline. Indeed:

You don’t have dialogue when people anonymously throw out their hatreds, their prejudices, their biases and always — in every case — end up attacking people.

Back at the Washington Post, John Gehring of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good wrote in response to Donohue’s railing:

We live in an age where the shrillest voices often drown out sober debate and thoughtful insights. Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh watch their ratings soar with every outrageous remark. Bill Donohue gets invited on TV because he bellows and bloviates with the best of them. While some enjoy the antics, most of us are tired of the noise machine. Faith and reason are not enemies, but together can help illuminate our path through the dark forests of fear, ignorance and injustice. Sometimes we just need to turn down the volume and tune out the shouters to find our way.

No doubt someone will find a way to roll all of this into the alleged civility conspiracy to silence the loudest conservative radio and television voices. When it is clearly a bid for a more civil, productive dialog.


October 30, 2009 - Posted by | Catholic, Religion, WWW |

1 Comment

  1. […] in the Washington Post and elsewhere, the Vatican is calling for online civility.  Baptist Planet quotes Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, the head of Canada’s Salt and Light Catholic Media […]

    Pingback by Religious News Verses: Media Civility - God Discussion | November 1, 2009

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