Technology and Faith: Responsible Use and Blogging


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This PPT presentation is for Catholic lay ministers who formed a Digital Discipleship ministry. Our mission is to have a holy and responsible presence on the Internet. We first examine elements of responsible use, then look at what the Catholic Church is saying about blogging. Finally, we look at some popular Catholic blogs.

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  • Introduce ourselves
  • The first part of this presentation will be about “Responsible Use.” In other words, what are some of the ways schools, businesses and churches have begun to set up rules to safeguard people who use technology. We call such policies “RUP” or “AUP.”

    Similar to how we have Safe Environment guidelines
  • For years, schools have been creating and enforcing AUPs because they KNOW that with technology come great dangers but also great opportunities.

    ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) provides national education standards (NETS) that specify standards for “Digital Citizenship” so that even young children have guidelines to follow for safe, responsible use of the Internet.
  • The infrastructure of today’s organizations utilize a wide variety of technology systems and services (e.g., storage servers, web sites, email and text messaging services, wired and wireless networks, and more). Regardless of their profit orientation, all organizations must and should provide to their employees and vendors policies that outlines the rules and practices for information technology. AUPs help organizations to ensure :
    A safe information work environment for its members: Organizations often provide information on how to safely use equipment. Guidelines are established to ensure that the content of information shared (internally and externally) protects the users from discriminatory and/or degrading messages.
    Employee productivity is enhanced and not crippled by information technology. The AUPs ensure that employees use information technology solely for business purposes and not for personal use. (e.g., employees are prohibited from accessing their Facebook profile via company computers).
    Internet securities: Companies provide guidelines to protect their web presence and other information technologies from all threats (internal and external and/or deliberate or accidental). Accesses and capabilities should be defined.
    Companies systems, data and their processes must be compliant, and users must be held accountable. Financial data, client/patient information and more are protected by, for example, privacy laws, HIPAA, Sarbanes Oxley, Patriot Act and more.
    Users clearly understand the consequences of non-adherence. Users may not understand what is and not acceptable practices, and the consequence for not following procedures and policies.
  • The Holy Father has made call for the Church to be involved in the digital era. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops went to work and published a list of guidelines regarding social media. One of the key questions they had was “How will we engage?” Best practices were obtained from a diverse array of organizations (non-profit, for-profit, and church entities). These guidelines enable church personnel and others to understand what elements should be considered when creating social media guidelines. These include the following:

    Defining appropriate communication boundaries: Determine what is confidential information. Abides by Church’s teachings (e.g., social justice teachings). Provides guidance on how to handle controversial topics.
    Sites should include Code of Conduct for visitors as well as non-adherence consequences (e.g., “All posts and comments should be marked by Christian charity and respect for the truth. They should be on topic and presume the good will of other posters. Discussion should take place primarily from a faith perspective. No ads please.” Always block anyone who does not abide by the Code of Conduct.)
    Provides guidelines: 1) on establishing a site 2) on how to report and monitor misuses, and 2) on how to deal with difficult fans or users
    Protects users: ensures it is a safe environment for users, provides special instructions for minors, ensures adequate permission has been sought when using others works, pictures and more.

  • One of the lesser-known documents of Vatican II, Inter Mirifica (Pope Paul VI, 1963) addressed the need for Catholics to have a voice in the communications media of the day (TV and radio!).

    It called for the establishment of a Catholic Press (newspaper) and Catholic TV and radio, but it also established the expectation that as media evolved, we would think about it and talk about our role as lay Catholics. It called for the establishment of World Communications Day, which began as an annual event in 1967.
  • For many years, the US Bishops have produced documents about media – movie guides, press releases, daily Bible readings, televised Masses, podcasts and websites devoted to using media responsibly to spread the Good News.
    Last year, the bishops gave us a set of guidelines for the use of SOCIAL media, such as Facebook. Blogging can also be included in the genre of social media because blogs connect people of similar interests.
  • You can read all the past WCD messages on the Pontifical Council for Social Communications site. It’s a great way to catch up, as each document is short and covers a limited topic such as 2010, which was directed to priests and the new media.

  • The Church and New Media by Brandon Vogt

    Inside and outside the Vatican, people are taking a look at the impact the new communications media are having on our world and the voice of the Church in the digital continent.

  • With all of these new ways of communicating, there are bound to be challenges regarding misuse!

    We can always look to the Beatitudes or the Ten Commandments if we are unsure about our online behavior.

  • Posting hurtful and aggressive comments about other people (Cyberbullying).
    Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are the meek: for they shall posses the land. Treat others like you would treat a guest in your home. Anna Marco, a writer for the Catholic Herald, states,
    The blogosphere merely amplifies and speeds up human communication. Because of the speed there is sometimes a disconnect between pressing the button to publish a post or a comment and the reality that such a comment could be hurtful or even irresponsible.

  • Another misuse is writing as though you are the authoritative voice of the Church when you are not.

    Always verify authenticity. Determine whether this article is journalism, opinion, venting… or what?
    Polarizing to say “You’re Catholic and you’re not.” Be aware of authoritative sources and aware of how to verify them.
     Declaring who is and who isn’t a Catholic. “Such matters are (thank God) for bishops to adjudicate…” Mark Shea

  • Using Christian documents (for example, Bible passages) to justify acts of violence and injustices, or using Social Media to start hate movements (e.g., Nazi). All should be done in love.

     Pope XVI stated in 2009, when meeting with several world leaders, the following:
    "The solutions to the current problems of humanity cannot be merely technical, they must take account of all the needs of the person, who has a soul and a body; thus they must take account of the Creator, God. The absolute supremacy of technology, which finds its greatest expression in certain practices that run counter to life, could lead to a grim future for humankind. Acts that do not respect the true dignity of the person, even when they seem to be motivated by a 'choice of love,' are in fact the fruit of 'a materialistic and mechanistic understanding of human life' which reduces love without truth to 'an empty shell, to be filled in an arbitrary way.'“
    Bishop Oscar Romero (1917-1980) stated,

    Peace is not the product of terror or fear. Peace is not the silence of cemeteries. Peace is not the silent revolt of violent repression. Peace is the generous, tranquil contribution of all to the good of all. Peace is dynamism. Peace is generosity. It is right and it is duty.
  • By defining truth and morality by what the majority thinks. Users/members tend to believe “it’s okay” because the majority of the fellow bloggers support ideas that are not rooted in Catholic beliefs. The author of “The Church and New Media,” Brandon Vogt, says, “Whoever has the loudest voice becomes the authority – your credentials are the numbers of readers, followers or listeners you have.”

    St. Therese of Lisieux taught us to measure success not through the big things but through the small actions done with deep love.

    It is very important to always discern fact from fiction.
  • See handout.

    With Beatitudes and Ten Commandments
  • (This doesn’t mean abolish newspapers.)

    Blogging is not meant to be journalism. It is a different KIND of communication.

    -There really are not “professional standards” for blogging – that’s why responsible use is so important.
    -not necessarily factual or truthful – although it may be!
    -may be slanted to the left or the right
    -may contain error
    -not required to verify statements
    -no sponsoring/ monitoring organization – although companies (in their AUP) may require identification in blogs (no anonymous)
    -rely on individual integrity to post responsible content

  • First Vatican Bloggers summit held May 2, 2011
    750 applicants – 150 randomly selected
    The Church wanted to give bloggers and the Vatican a chance to meet, in the spirit of embracing what bloggers do in support of the Catholic Church’s presence in the digital continent.

    It was not a regulatory meeting.
  • The Vatican is not going to start blogging. The informal nature of the blog does not lend itself to the kind of information the Vatican wants to communicate.

    But by having a summit and recognizing the voice of the laity and religious on the blogosphere, the Church has shown an openness to the kind of dialogue that blogging can provide.
  • “For their part, the Vatican officials suggested the creation of a voluntary organization of Catholic bloggers that could be called upon to respond to the accusations and misrepresentations made against the Church by the secular world. This body, they insisted, would exist not to regulate or control the members, but to form a cohesive response team defending the Church from outside attacks.”

    In other words, the CHURCH is calling on bloggers to be ambassadors for truth and authenticity!

  • How can blogs be used responsibly by both clergy and lay people?

    Here is Bishop Lynch’s blog. Similar to a homily, our bishop posts blogs about
  • Whispers in the Loggia

    This is a blog by Rocco Palmo, active since 2004. He has 500,000 viewers.
    Palmo is a reputable journalist and now blogs on events related to the life of the Church in North America. He is 28 years old.
    Because he is a responsible blogger, he is respected by Church officials and has even broken significant news BEFORE traditional journalists.
    His nickname is “The Church Whisperer”
    He was a guest speaker at Vatican Blogmeet, the Vatican bloggers conference this year.
    His work earned him an honorary doctorate from the Aquinas Institute of Theology.
  • Matthew Warner is a Catholic man whose blog covers all kinds of subjects of interest: Anti-abortion messages, videos about Catholic topics, inspiring stories, etc.
    It is a potpourri of blogging content.

    Warner blogs for the National Catholic Register (a service of EWTN) and has a presence on Twitter (Tweet Catholic) as well as a business called Flocknote that helps parishes and diocese manage digital communications (e-mail, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

    Jennifer Fulwiler is a former atheist married to a former non-Catholic who both converted to Catholicism. Her blog has a great feature called commenting. People who read the blog can comment – this is a great way to open dialogue and discussion about issues of interest.
  • Spiritual Popcorn is a blog dedicated to looking at popular films from the Catholic perspective. The author is Paul Jarzembowski, Director of Young Adult Ministry for the diocese of Joliet, Illinois.

    His blog also has links to other Catholic blogs and websites about movies.

  • Angels in Africa is a blog maintained by our own seminarians, Bob and Dan Angel, who were assigned to duties in Africa this past summer in Sierra Leone and Liberia.
    Their stories and reflections, spiritual insights and frank descriptions of their experiences give us a glimpse into the lives of two men who sincerely are following in Jesus’ footsteps!

  • Catholic Relief Services has a blog that talks about their relief work all around the world.

    Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The organization provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries. Blogs about the important work that they do. Posts cover topics such as the Ethiopia Drought, the Pakistan Flood, Human Trafficking and more.
    Example of a post:

    East Africa Drought: Leaving Kenya
    By Patrick Carney
    My last hours in Kenya are coming to a close. I’ve just finished my work, and I think it was a great success. I was able to assist in getting two grant proposals written for Catholic Relief Services’ work during the East Africa Famine.
    Although I am excited to come home, there will be things I miss about Kenya and our CRS offices in Nairobi. Take it from me, when you support CRS and our work around the world, know that the staffers in our international offices are great stewards. Our staff here is friendly, welcoming, thorough, very hard-working and passionate about what they do. I’ve been very impressed. I’ve had the opportunity to meet a lot of people with interesting stories during my two weeks in Africa, but one woman’s story has stuck with me. Asha Hagi Elmi is a Somali woman who has spent much of her life fighting for equal rights in her homeland. After the Mbagathi Conference ended in 2004, Asha became a Member of Parliament in the Somali transitional government.
    In 2006, when violence and political turmoil hit Somalia, Asha was no longer able to safely remain in her homeland. Despite concerns for her security, she continues to work tirelessly for the neediest people through her organization, Save Somali Women and Children. Her story and dedication is inspiring.
    As I get ready to head to the airport, I hope that I was able to make a difference for the millions of people suffering throughout East Africa. I know the staff here does that every day.
    Now, off to the airport for an 8.5-hour flight to London, a 4 hour layover and a 7-hour flight to Washington. Great, now I have Simon and Garfunkel’s Homeward Bound stuck in my head.
    Read Patrick’s previous Kenya posts here, and here.
    Patrick Carney is CRS’ Web writer and producer. He’s based in Baltimore and was on loan to East Africa staff to assist in the drought response.
  • The American Papist, (part of the website), is another interesting blog. Thomas Peters is the American Papist, and he has a lot to say. He is a young Catholic with graduate degrees in theology, who works in Washington D.C. He has appeared in many Catholic publications and shows (including EWTN). The American Papist is one of the most read Catholic blogs in the world.This is a Catholic activist blog covering current issues such as:

    Taxes and Economy
    Catholic Church
    National Security
    Health Care
    Marriage and Family
    Educational Freedom
    Economic Justice
    Sanctity of Human Life
    Religious Liberty

    “Catholic social teaching holds that all Christians have a right and responsibility to participate in public life. The American
    Bishops teach that such participation by all Chrisitians, when able, is a moral obligation.”
  • Lisa M. Hendey launched in 2000. Besides the blog, she hosts the weekly “Catholic Moments Podcast” and the “Catholic Mom” television segments on KNXT-TV. Her dream was create a space that would “Celebrate Catholic Motherhood.” Lisa states,

    The term “mommy blogger” now defines an ever growing community of women who have taken to the Internet in a way
    our mothers used to gather for coffee in one another’s kitchens. But this conversation is not just about reviewing products or
    sharing potty-training tips. Today’s mothers have found support, strength, and true community online in both the world of
    social networking and in the blogosphere. New generations of parents are turning to one another online for answers to everything
    from medical woes in infants to how to deal with the turbulent teenager.

    Lisa’s blog cover the Catholic mom spiritual journey through everyday life. Lisa further states, “ Where previous generations of moms gathered for Rosary groups or play dates at the Catholic school playground, today’s mothers tend to supplement their “real world” friendships with vibrant communities that have cropped up around in the Internet…The resulting relationships and conversations build mutual respect, true dialogue, and lasting friendship.”
  • Cardinal Sean O’Malley is an American Cardinal serving as the Archbishop for Boston. He started his blog as an evangelization experiment. His blog’s focus is to reach out to “young Catholics who have grown up with these technologies.” Via his blog writings, he shares his experiences and reflections regarding current church topics and events, and more. Cardinal Sean’s blogs include often pictures.

    In this week’s blog posts, Cardinal Sean reflects on September 11. The following is a small blurb of his reflection:

    “The events of Sept. 11 demonstrated the fragility of human life … you saw the very worst and the very best of humanity. The worst, certainly, were those who plotted for months, and perhaps years, to perpetrate this crime that killed thousands of innocent people. At the same time, you saw the courage of the firefighters, law enforcement officers, and even average citizens, such as the passengers who fought back on United Airlines Flight 93, forcing the plane down before it reached its intended target. “

    Cardinal O’Malley states, “It is not just important but vital that the Church bring the Good News of Jesus Christ into that culture and infuse the ‘digital continent’ with the leaven of our Catholic faith.”
  • What about YOU?

    Do YOU have something to share with others in a blog?
  • Interactive sharing – pass the mouse around again and say what you are going to take with you from this presentation.

    Prayer was obtained from the following website:
  • Technology and Faith: Responsible Use and Blogging

    1. 1. Technology and Faith in the 21st Century: Responsible Use and Blogging By Claudia McIvor and Emma Perez-Hale Technology and Faith in the 21st Century
    2. 2. Technology and Faith in the 21st Century Lord, you have blessed us with the gift of human ingenuity. Let us, with every technological advancement, witness your Gospel and seek the common good. Lord, you have given us a new digital frontier to share our love for Christ. Guide us through the challenges of change, and let us always seek to proclaim and share your good news with others.
    3. 3. What is Responsible Use?  Rules for technology use, customized to your organization  Keeping the online environment safe and wholesome  Shared responsibility  Teach appropriate boundaries  Fair Use and Copyright guidelines  Consequences for violations Technology and Faith in the 21st Century
    4. 4. Educational Policies Technology and Faith in the 21st Century Digital Citizenship
    5. 5. Business AUP  Safe information work environment  Employee productivity  Internet security  Compliance  Consequences of non- adherence Technology and Faith in the 21st Century
    6. 6. Church AUP “Social Media Guidelines”  Defines appropriate communication boundaries  Includes a Code of Conduct  Defines social media terms  Provides guidelines  Protects users Technology and Faith in the 21st Century
    7. 7. Inter Mirifica Technology and Faith in the 21st Century ii_decree_19631204_inter-mirifica_en.html
    8. 8. USCCB Social Media Guidelines Technology and Faith in the 21st Century
    9. 9. World Communications Day Messages 1967-2011 Technology and Faith in the 21st Century
    10. 10. Technology and Faith in the 21st Century
    11. 11. Technology and Faith in the 21st Century 043976998/sizes/l/in/photostream/ Licensed for reuse under CC 4059674034-original.jpg Image by Loci Lenar Licensed for reuse Fotopedia CC
    12. 12. Common Misuses/Abuses Technology and Faith in the 21st Century
    13. 13. Technology and Faith in the 21st Century Common Misuses/Abuses
    14. 14. Technology and Faith in the 21st Century Common Misuses/Abuses Licensed for reuse under CC Image by Matt Hamm
    15. 15. Common Misuses/Abuses Licensed for reuse Creative Commons by Share-Alike Image by looking4poetry on Flickr Technology and Faith in the 21st Century
    16. 16. Scenario Discussion : Stuart, the Social Butterfly Technology and Faith in the 21st Century
    17. 17. Blogging Short for “web log,” a blog is a web site or an entry on a web site that includes opinions, thoughts or commentaries . Technology and Faith in the 21st Century
    18. 18. Technology and Faith in the 21st Century
    19. 19. Technology and Faith in the 21st Century
    20. 20. “The key for the Vatican is to focus on becoming a facilitator in the Catholic blogging community. It has the organizational leadership to bring the right people together, allow leaders to emerge and then support the right leaders and movements. That is what authority and influence looks like on the social web.” Technology and Faith in the 21st Century -Matthew Warner, Blogger for National Catholic Register
    21. 21. Technology and Faith in the 21st Century
    22. 22. Positive Examples of Blogs Technology and Faith in the 21st Century
    23. 23. Technology and Faith in the 21st Century
    24. 24. Technology and Faith in the 21st Century
    25. 25. Technology and Faith in the 21st Century
    26. 26. Technology and Faith in the 21st Century
    27. 27. Technology and Faith in the 21st Century
    28. 28. Technology and Faith in the 21st Century
    29. 29. Technology and Faith in the 21st Century
    30. 30. Technology and Faith in the 21st Century
    31. 31. Technology and Faith in the 21st Century
    32. 32. Do You Have Any Blogs to Recommend? Technology and Faith in the 21st Century
    33. 33. Technology and Faith in the 21st Century
    34. 34. A PRAYER FOR THE GIFT OF KNOWLEDGE Technology and Faith in the 21st Century Absolute and all knowing God Nothing is hidden from Your sight. In the prescience since the beginning, All knowledge existed within You. Kindly share Your knowledge with me, Making me aware of what is meant to be, Permitting my soul to understand it, And wisdom to agree with its outcome. Provide me with the gift of discretion, To prudently apply received knowledge, To ensure the fulfillment of Your Will. Your knowledge shines forth forever!