Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
June 7, 2010
Canada's bishops opt for interactive approach to Web
Smith's blog part of effort to make 'astute use' of modern communications
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
OTTAWA - Canada's Catholic bishops have launched a new, interactive website, using the latest online tools to spread the Good News.
Launched May 14, it includes video, a group bishops' blog and even opportunities for visitors to leave comments - even controversial or critical ones.
"It shows our commitment to make this a vibrant vehicle of engagement, of interaction with our people with the end goal of evangelization," said Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith. "I think it's important for us to know what people are thinking and what their questions are."
Smith is vice-president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and chair of the CCCB's communications commission.
ATTACKS ON OUELLET
One of the new blog posts came from Quebec Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who was the brunt of media attacks for recent interventions on abortion.
"I think it's time that we circle the wagons a bit," said one anonymous commenter. "Cardinal Ouellet is being eaten alive by the sharks, and we don't hear a lot of episcopal support."
Smith said there was no question bishops across the country supported Ouellet, because he was merely repeating what the Church has always taught, but the comment could be helpful.
But if people are asking why the bishops are not supporting the cardinal, it may indicate a need to communicate their support more clearly, he said.
Smith is also aware the sexual abuse issue could end up discussed in the comments section.
"We do not and cannot run from that issue," he said. "People need to talk about it. In the past a culture of silence has allowed this scourge to fester."
Though the cccb.ca site was due for a routine upgrade, the bishops decided to ensure that it responded to Pope Benedict's World Communications Day call to "make astute use of the unique possibilities offered by modern communications."
The more the bishops hear from the media and from the people through the questions they pose, the more they get "helpful insights into what the pulse of the land is," he said.
Smith began his own personal blog a few weeks ago that he will update at least once a week (archbishopsmith.blogspot.com).
He will offer reflections on Sacred Scripture, but it will also give him a chance to respond immediately should issues arise in his diocese.
In a recent post, he writes about an encounter he and eight priests had with a large black bear on the golf course. The animal kept coming closer, forcing the priests to run for the golf carts.
"It was clear to me then that the tried and true measures of bear removal were not working, and that drastic measures were needed," Smith writes.
"When the bear came to within 10 feet of the cart, and acting on a sudden inspiration, I quietly leaned forward and invited him to serve as a member of the Council of Priests."
"That did the trick. The bear ran away more quickly than I could have imagined possible and we were out of all danger."
Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast's daily blog Journey of a Bishop is also now available through the cccb.ca site. Other bishops can be expected to join the roster.
Does Smith have any worries blogging could become addictive? He laughs. "I don't have time for it to become addictive!"
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.