The Web of Faith

Evangelizing online.
by Saira Herboth & Erin Rockenha | Source:

The internet is expanding to every sector of society and the family.  This month Zenit reported that in Canada, 94% of young people have Internet access at home. Half of 11th grade students, and even 20% of those in 4th grade, have their own Internet-connected computer, separate and apart from the family.

Even the Catholic Church has entered into this new forum to evangelize.

Individual parishes and churches are investing both time and money to internet use. In September, the Washington Post reported that around 80% of churches have elaborate video and audio systems, together with a variety of online materials.  Perhaps this is a response to the 2002 appeal made by the PCSC (Pontifical Council for Social Communications) that implored all “Church-related groups that have not yet taken steps to enter cyberspace …to look into the possibility of doing so at an early date.”

While encouraging the use of media and recognizing the “important benefits and advantages from a religious perspective”, the PCSC also pointed out that “the virtual reality of cyberspace cannot substitute for real interpersonal community”. 

Dr. Donald DeMarco PhD, Professor Emeritus at St. Jerome’s University, also shares this concern.  “We need human contact,” he asserts “we can’t lose personal interaction for the sake of higher efficiency.” 

DeMarco further explains that internet, along with all other forms of technology, is neutral.  The danger is when this technology “not only dominates but also rules.” This creates a world of technocracy which “closes in on itself and deprives people of spiritual nourishment.”  DeMarco suggest that if sufficient contact with God and nature are preserved, then the world of technocracy will not develop.

 Despite the concern for and danger of depersonalization, the PCSC particularly acknowledges the internet’s “remarkable capacity to overcome distance and isolation, bringing people into contact with like-minded persons of good will who join in virtual communities of faith to encourage and support one another.”

Karl Keating, catholic apologist and founder of This Rock, stated his opinion about internet evangelization.  He hopes that the aim of catholic websites “will not be to turn a profit but to turn hearts.” However, Keating downplays the impact of internet evangelization. “The problem is,” he says, “that a book still trumps a computer. More people come to the faith by turning pages than by clicking mice.”

In 2005 Archbishop Foley, president of the PCSC counteracted oppositions of every kind: “There are too many voices that are opposed, too many people who condemn Internet, because some make an evil use of it. It would be like condemning the human race because we are all sinners and because many abuse their own freedom."  

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