A new model

Spadaro notes that the mission of the Church is not to increase its numbers but to increase the Kingdom of God. Thus, to extend his analogy of the Church as Google, it’s not only about having more nodes at the down-link side, but a bigger throughput on the uplink side. Spadaro proposes a new model for the Church: that of the Web. It is not a Web of immanent relationships but rather a cluster, having as its external principle: Christ himself. The Spirit is the bandwidth that flows through the Uplink, on the hub’s backbone, and down to the guests.

This still holds in a social-networked culture. These are forged as “third place, somewhere between the public and the private, between the personal and the social.” [1]  The concept of a third place emphasises the relationship of experience, which according to Oldenburg, allows “islands of sense to emerge.”[2]  Spadaro suggests that the Church should be another creator of this third space where the faithful come together in faith and can “face their most profound questions in a climate that allows the construction of relationships that are deep and in communion.”[3]

Spadaro proposes a new model for the Church: that of the Web

Even though he has been speaking of a hub allegory, Spadaro notes that there is one stark difference. The networking equipment deals with information, or more precisely, data. The Church deals with more than mere information and its transmission. “She is a place of witnessing, lived in the message that she proclaims: ‘This does not mean transmitting abstract notions, but offering an experience to be shared.’”[4]

McLuhan notes that the condition of the immediacy of the interrelationship between the Church and the world is very similar to that of the first Christians. When one studies the Magisterium, one can imagine the whole worldly population and puts it in an open forum where perpetual dialogue was possible, thus, having the Magisterium “simultaneously in all of the visible Church.”[5]  Power and authority flow away from the centre to the peripheral nodes. This can be allegorised in a pre-Cloud Web. Another difference lies between the Web and the Church.

Power and authority flow away from the centre to the peripheral nodes

The Web allows all content, because its main aim is to connect points irrespective of the semantic wealth, whereas the Church exists based on the Incarnational logic. The horizontal dimension, again here we are speaking of a hierarchical network L2/L3 topology, lives from an authoritative witnessing of the Revelation. From here stems another task of the Church: ordering the truth passed through its channels. Spadaro metaphorically speaks of the Google page-ranking system. The ranking system relies on agreed paths to knowledge and validity of links to content. However, the higher authority of the Church is transcendent. Thus, it is a vertically referential system. This comes in contrast with the horizontal flat referential system as advocated by the Web, or better Web 2.0. The latter promotes the emanation of the ‘I.’ [6]

One point of contention would be that the digital society is no longer read through its content but on its relationship and the exchange of the said content. This Web 2.0 dynamic has eased the current issues we face, such as ‘Fake News’ and worse, forging the Post-Truth society.


[1] Spadaro, Cybertheology: Thinking Christianity in the Era of the Internet.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

Matthew is a Masters graduate in Informatics and is currently reading a Bachelor’s Degree in Sacred Theology. He has a strong interest in merging the tech field, particularly Artificial Intelligence and Social Media, with theology. He is also in his sixth year of formation at the Archbishop’s Seminary.

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