Following Archbishop Celli's opening remarks, each of the first five panelists offered their own thoughts on blogging. The English representative on the panel, Elizabeth Scalia (The Anchoress), began by noting how astute our current pontiff has been in this field.
"Pope Benedict XVI has been quick to understand the transformative power of new media," Elizabeth said. "The Pope has been ahead of the curve, encouraging priests, religious, and lay-people to engage these tools."
But with this encouragement, the Pope has also reiterated the need for online charity.
Elizabeth echoed the Pope by claiming, "Catholic clarity cannot be disseminated without a measure of charity. This charity can sometimes be difficult to find on the Internet." The Internet can be a true spiritual battleground, Elizabeth noted. Unchecked, it produces a walling-in of our minds, a constriction of ideologies that can make authentic charity truly difficult.
Blogging, in particular, encourages a special kind of "us-vs-them" mentality. We read these blogs, but not those. We engage with "orthodox" bloggers--as we understand "orthodox"--but not those new media heretics. This fostering of factions runs counter to the unity of the Church. And if we are to bring the aroma of Christ online, we must seek charity and--though not at the sake of truth--unity.
In its depth, wideness and diversity, the Church is somewhat like the Internet. But unlike the Internet, the Church is bound by 2,000 years of truth and tradition.We need to be sure that Catholic online engagement doesn't devolve into a boundless, lawless frontier. And Elizabeth pointed out that this applies to each blogger in this room as much as anyone.
Closing with self-deprecation, Elizabeth added that she hasn't conquered these problems herself, and that she's in the muck of the online world with the rest of us. "Since I began blogging," Elizabeth admitted, "I've gone to Confession much more often."
Don't forget that you can watch the live stream of the blogging conference at SQPN!