MONDAY
March 13, 2000
volume 11, no. 51
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NEWS & VIEWS     Acknowledgments
Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

CHURCH'S CHALLENGE IN INTERNET: "E-VANGELIZATION"
Conclusions of Assisi Congress

    ASSISI, MAR 12 (ZENIT.org).- "Gospel and Cyberspace; Internet and proclamation of the Christian message": these were the binomials that focused the attention of a study seminar, organized by the Media Commission of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI), held in Assisi from March 8-11. The purpose of the meeting was to understand the new communications scene and its impact on the Church. There were over 400 participants from various dioceses and Catholic associations involved in presenting the Church's message on the 'Net.

"E-vangelization"

    During the opening session, Bishop Ennio Antonelli, CEI secretary general, used the image of the fishing net, evangelical metaphor par excellence, to remind his audience that the new media can serve to "catch" men for God. In addition to "e-commerce" and "e-business," there are new possibilities for "e-vangelization."

    Sister Angela Ann Zukowski, director of the University of Dayton's Institute for Pastoral Initiatives, was among the participants. She addressed the present concern of many Bishops: "Can we control the use of the word 'Catholic' on Internet?" Her answer was a categorical no. "Cyberspace has no confines or authorities to whom one can appeal."

    "In the past, the Church always carried out a role of primary importance in the formation of culture in all parts of the world. Today, however, as opposed to the past, the new virtual culture is expanding more rapidly than the Church's reaction." Therefore, "we can choose between being guardians of the Word in the battle against the devils of cyberspace or transform ourselves into architects and sculptors of the new culture coming into being," Sister Zukowski explained.

    Derrick de Kerckhove, successor of Marshall McLuhan at the University of Toronto, gave a video-conference to the congress. Like his predecessor, he cultivates a passion for spirituality. According to this professor, arrival on the Internet is "an extraordinary occasion for the one who works with souls. It is important to know how to create virtual communities, support and welcome groups for those entering the 'Net. With Internet, the proclamation and pastoral communication can be rejuvenated, especially in virtue of the great capacity of interaction proper to the means. But let us not forget that once a new media is introduced in the Church, together with obvious advantages, negative effects are felt. Suffice it to think of the relation between diffusion by the press and the Reformation. These are physiological consequences; what is important, however, is not to be frightened," Kerchhove concluded.

    According to Kerckhove, the presence of Christians on Internet is decisive. "If the Christian message was missing on the net, an apocalyptic future would open, a scene like 'Blade Runner.' But this is not the only aspect in question. Just as the Jesuits took the Gospel together with the alphabet to the Indians, through its institutions the Church could instruct the marginalized in the language and use of the new media." ZE00031204

          

March 13, 2000
volume 11, no. 51
NEWS & VIEWS

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