From the confessional to the chat

The power of communication today does not run through the classical ways of communication; social networks/media make the world stop and go round at the same time. Sometimes I suspect that the Church hasn’t realized this yet. I still see that Church and the social networks relation still doesn’t create enough new spaces of evangelization. More importantly I still see that the priests haven’t yet moved from the confessional to the chat.

Before resigning from his post, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI prepared some very interesting points about the use of social networks for Sunday’s commemoration:“Believers are increasingly aware that, unless the Good News is made known also in the digital world, it may be absent in the experience of many people for whom this existential space is important. The digital environment is not parallel or purely virtual world, but is part of the daily experience of many people, especially the young”.
Although lately, I am seeing an effort related to making a good presence on the web and on the social network platform by the Maltese diocese, I still find many websites pertaining to the Maltese Church as shambolic, and not attractive, albeit resourceful.People today live on social networks.According to 3.2 hours per day are spent on social networks by the Americans. That’s a whopping 1/8 th of the day.

On average, an internet user spends 18% of one’s time online using a social network, according to And yet most Church related websites and Facebook presence show the lack of effort invested amd are not utilizing the opportunities offered by the latest advancements and concepts on the web. My question is: Is the Church simply setting up Facebook pages just to join the bandwagon, or is it really investing time and money in setting up proper web teams?

Another question comes to mind. Are there any priests or laymen ready to spend hours on Facebook chat manning pages and groups awaiting people to enter into discussion in order to provide spiritual direction? This is the new reality. Many people are lacking the courage to visit a priest for a chat, but find no problem, due to the anonymity or lack of personal touch to start a chat with a priest. Is the Church (especially in Malta) ready to work on this?

There has been a lot of improvement on the web front by the Church. The Church and the Social Networks relationship is on the increase as well. However much needs to be improved. Let us all, as a Church, realise that the language is changing. We need to communicate digitally. So let us learn this new language unless we want to find ourselves aliens to our country and lol’d at.

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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