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Friday Thoughts – Canon Law and New Media

Now I’m sure Ed Peters has probably covered this in some sort of way or another, but something struck me in reading some of the canons in Church Administration class yesterday.
Canon 761

The various means available are to be used to proclaim Christian doctrine: first of all preaching and catechetical instruction, which always hold the principal place, but also the presentation of doctrine in schools, academies, conferences, and meeting of every type and its diffusion through public declarations in the press or in other instruments of social communication by legitimate authority on the occasion of certain events. (Italics added by me)

This is under the section entitled The Ministry of the Divine Wordas part of the teaching function of the Church.  Many of the previous canons are directed toward the ecclesial authority of the Roman Pontiff, the college of bishops, individual bishops, priests, and deacons.  Canon 759 references the ministry of the Divine Word entrusted to the laity.  The last two canons of this preface of the section, Canons 760-761, direct all the members of the Church, ordained and lay combined.   
This canon then is for all of us, bloggerss included.  It seems almost prophetic that Canon Law, codified in 1983, speaks of “other instruments of social communication” opening up wide for the possibility of proclaiming the Word of God through the social communication of weblogs, podcasts, vidcasts, and tweets.  We are called to use said means to proclaim the word of God, evangelize, and teach.   
“By legitimate authority” seems to focus on clergy, and indeed Pope Benedict XVI has directed priests especially to use these new means of social communication to evangelize.  

Now this certainly isn’t a definitive license or even explicit message for the use of New Media in Evangelization, but the fact the “other instruments of social communication” is mentioned in the Code of Canon Law is a juridical step in the right direction for us here on the digital continent.

About Fr. Kyle

I am a priest of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. I was born and raised right outside New Orleans. I attended Catholic school my entire educational career. By the time I graduated high school, I had two paths to choose: rockstar or priesthood. I pursued both for awhile but eventually came to the understanding God's will was priesthood and my will was rockstardom. After making that decision, to allow God's will to be mine, I needed a new way to channel my creativity. I began writing as I finished up my formation for priesthood. I still play music, but priestly ministry comes first. My bride: St. Rita of Cascia Parish in Harahan, LA.

Comments

  1. Pope Benedict also noted something important in Verbum Domini:

    Among the new forms of mass communication, nowadays we need to recognize the increased role of the internet, which represents a new forum for making the Gospel heard. Yet we also need to be aware that the virtual world will never be able to replace the real world, and that evangelization will be able to make use of the virtual world offered by the new media in order to create meaningful relationships only if it is able to offer the personal contact which remains indispensable. In the world of the internet, which enables billions of images to appear on millions of screens throughout the world, the face of Christ needs to be seen and his voice heard, for “ if there is no room for Christ, there is no room for man ”. (Verbum Domini # 113).

    He also, in the preface to the Youcat, said the following:

    And so I ask you: study the catechism with passion and perseverance! Sacrifice your time for this! Study it in the silence of your room, read it with someone else, if you are friends, form groups and study networks, exchange ideas on the internet. In whatever way, remain in dialogue on your faith!”

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