“The Church in the digital world”, through a network of proximity, listening and relationship

The volume edited by Fabio Bolzetta has been presented, with a preface by Pope Francis, born from the experience of the 150 video tutorials of the (WeCa). On the cover there is a QR code that connects to a portal, where there will always be updated content

Photo of Cristian Gennari / Siciliani)

for Gigliola


The Church in the digital world: tools and proposals. How to build a place web for the parish? And how to use the Social media for pastoral care? How, in short, to live “The Church in the digital world”. This is the title of the volume edited by Fabio Bolzetta, with the preface by Pope Francis, published by Tau Editrice, presented on Monday 20 June in Rome. The volume, is born from the experience of the 150 video tutorial of the Italian Catholic Association of Webmasters (WeCa), offers a four-step journey to reflect, discover, share on social media and publish in web the experience of a Church that is also present in the digital world. A path that, especially in the light of the pandemic experience, proposes how to “live digitally” with awareness and training without losing sight of the continuous evolution of digital tools and platforms. In order to propose an “interactive” book cover, with the presence of a QR code and the development of an algorithm that accompanies and enriches the reading with constantly updated multimedia contributions.

We talk about Chiesa and digital with the editor of the volume, Fabio Bolzetta, president of WeCa.

Although the presence in the network of the Church was previous to the Covid, with the pandemic the phenomenon saw a great expansion …
In the late 1990s, the first Catholic-inspired Internet sites emerged in Italy. From here there was a significant increase in numbers and, with a leap in time, until today the pandemic has had the effect of revitalizing the use of new technologies that we always call new, but now have not been invented: with the pandemic, however, we have rediscovered the digital tools we use every day, even within the Church. However, this rediscovery was not followed by the necessary attention to formation and this is what we feel today as the first need, that is, attention to the quality of the Catholic presence on the network and, as a second aspect. , to a digital renewal. focus on pastoral care. We note, in fact, that these tools tend to be used vertically and not horizontally. Instead, through this book we try to promote a network that is of proximity, of listening, that is not a network that suffocates, but that facilitates a series of connections, that supports, that embraces, that can release through the its nodes. waves of regenerative actions.

Fabio Bolzetta

Fabio Bolzetta (photo by Cristian Gennari / Siciliani)

How to help parishes, priests, Catholic associations, religious congregations, pastoral workers make the best use of these tools on the net?
Al 150 tutorial to what we have reached today, the first task was to sift through the tools of the network and the presence in the web of our world, sifting through the themes and drawing a thread, a proposal, not through the four poles of a compass, but through four stages: reflecting, discovering, sharing and getting to publish. We have tried, first of all, to reflect on what are the issues of the network such as digital citizenship and information; on what to keep and what to stop from digital dating after the pandemic; on ethical values ​​and artificial intelligence. A second step was to get into the concrete by finding out which ones are the main ones Tag for prayer, yes, how and what tools to use for a bulletin for the parish, what is Wikipedia and Catopedia. And then, again, we continue social to share: so how can we use Instagram for pastoral care? And what advice can we offer for a Facebook profile for priests and religious? Or what does a priest share on Facebook? They are also very specific examples that are inserted in a practical guide, but then it is a volume that can be read with the smartphone.

As of today, June 20, a QR code has been activated on the cover: in fact, the volume is part of a WeCa multimedia project: we have created a portal ad hoc, which accompanies the reading of the text. There will always be updated content, because it is a constantly changing world, and the portal accompanies the reading of the text, returning updated and additional content. Then we developed, in WeCa, an algorithm that, based on the questions and answers – «What are you looking for in the network? What interests you? “- and for whom the question is asked – a seminarian, a priest, a religious, a layman, a father, a rector – returns custom resources and content. Also internally at WeCa we have developed the ability for “Amazon Alexa” devices for our podcasts tutorial. Today it is difficult to think like a communication in a single segment: only paper, only multimedia, only listening. The text, on the one hand, is part of the path of the association that deals with these issues since 2003, even before the birth of Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Instagram, and, on the other hand, aims to promote comprehensive training. It is no coincidence that WeCa’s collaboration with the Dicastery for the Integral Service for Human Development and the Vatican Commission Covid-19 focuses precisely on this need for comprehensive training.

The preface to the volume is by Pope Francis …
We can only express infinite gratitude for the gift of these words that Pope Francis has wanted to entrust to us and that are key to understanding what happened during the pandemic and the commitment of the priests, a commitment that we have also said, of the communities that most have faced the pandemic, especially during the first confinement. After this awareness of the creativity of priests, where there has been a great growth in the use of digital tools and even some excess, now the Pope invites us to focus on the need for formation. This is a text dedicated especially to priests. The Pope reminds us that there is much to be done to learn to listen, involve and train young digital natives, who may be able – as Francesc writes – to revitalize parish websites. The Pope acknowledges that the virtual can never replace the beauty of face-to-face encounters, but the digital world is inhabited and inhabited by Christians. Grateful to the Pope for these words he has entrusted to us, we pay attention to the very special moment we have lived and the steps that now await us as a Church and as a Church committed to the digital environment, in which we will also seek and continue to offer our very small contribution, on tiptoe, especially from the point of view of service.

The Church in the digital world

A moment of the presentation of the book (photo Cristian Gennari / Siciliani)

What are the most common mistakes and what potential does the presence of our world have in the digital space?
There are more structured realities and others less so. If today I have to focus on a critical issue is that of loneliness, this is the feeling that the care of the parish website or a religious community is not included in a real communication project, but is something delegated to a person and that this adds to the commitments he already has. Apart from the isolation and, therefore, the proposal to overcome it, another limit is the instantaneity, which is modeled a bit stories, which today are also encouraged by many priests. Thus, there is some risk of a snapshot-based relationship, which dissolves after 24 hours as content and topics. Today’s challenge is to be able to promote the relationship that can be sustained or even, perhaps, provoked by digital and then be encouraged and continue even in presence. A relationship that goes beyond this concept of instantaneity, but that also looks at us as a community, al web how communityto the future of the network, because this is a space that increasingly challenges us.

You can use them well and social for pastoral care?
Of course, we put examples in this. EL social they can be a tool that goes hand in hand with pastoral care, just think that TikTok was initially born with an educational imprint, and then moved on to another aspect. EL social they have the value of connection, but the more divisive approach needs to be overcome to promote a network that nurtures relationships. It takes a lot of preparation and training to do that. As the Pope invited us to do in the message of World Communications Day 2022, we must promote the value of listening, even in these spaces, because they are certainly spaces for discussion, but they can and must become in spaces of dialogue and relationship through the guidelines of encounter and listening.

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