VATICAN CITY – Recent Vatican communications controversies have shown that in the Internet age the Church cannot avoid debate and in fact must be prepared to explain its teachings more convincingly through new media, the Vatican’s spokesman said.

"In a world such as ours, we would be deluding ourselves if we thought that communication can always be carefully controlled, or that it can always be conducted smoothly and as a matter of course," the spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, said in a lecture on May 18 at the Westminster seminary in London.

Father Lombardi said that, like any great institution today, the Catholic Church is going to come in for frequent criticism. Thanks in large part to the Internet, the “chorus of voices” that takes part in such debates is larger and more diverse, he said.

The Church’s strategy should be to enunciate its positions, evaluate criticism, and then give a clearer and more penetrating response, he said.

“It is a mistake to think that we ought to avoid debate. We must always seek to conduct debate in a way that leads to a better understanding of the Church’s position – and we must never get discouraged,” he said.

Father Lombardi said it’s inevitable that the Church’s message will sometimes be misunderstood, distorted or rejected by an increasingly secular world.

The Vatican spokesman said the task of Catholic communicators is to keep working harder to develop and use new media to communicate the Gospel and promote a culture of dialogue. If successful, he said, the Church can one day say that “the Internet is truly blessed”. - cns


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