Advice on being a digital witness

Why is the Media Such a Powerful Tool for Evangelization?

“What I send out via Twitter or my blog, people pass on through their own networks. And if what we’re passing on is the truth, the ability to spread the Gospel of Christ is increased exponentially. It’s also increased in a very human way because it builds on the concept of sharing directly among people of credibility (friends, family, etc).”

Anthony Buono, founder and president of Ave Maria Singles 

When Catholics Enter the Digital World, What Should We Never Forget?

“That the Catholic faith can never be separated from Catholic morals. Your faith needs to ground you and guide you. One of the ways it can do this is to help you distinguish fact from fantasy. The media proposes a lot of ideas about the human person, and not all of them are true. One of those ideas is that people are mere objects. 

“Whether it’s pornography or just advertising, much of what’s in the media today tries to turn people into a commodity, something which can be used to give us satisfaction. You have to be aware of that, and on your guard against buying into that attitude. You also have to be on your guard against the idea that you can buy fulfillment through acquiring things — automobiles, technology, etc. All those things are just tools to be used. They can’t bring joy, and they can’t bring satisfaction.” 

Father Mitch Pacwa, founder of Ignatius Productions and host of “EWTN Live”  

What’s at stake if Catholics don’t master the New Media? 

“Last fall at the USCCB General Assembly Meeting, Bishop Ron Herzog [of Alexandria, La.,] suggested that if the Catholic Church doesn’t establish itself more concretely in the technological arena, then the Church will soon cease to exist for the upcoming generation of young adults. That’s a terrifying thought. 

“To ignore the massive population that resides on the Internet and other electronic realms would be a disservice to our efforts of evangelization. And because technology changes each day, we need to realize we are in a race and must act quickly not just to keep up, but to become leaders in the ever-changing media landscape. With the rapidity of technological evolution, Catholics with the means to do so need to support the development of Catholic new media as they once did the creation of great works of art.” 

Greg Willits, Catholic radio and podcast host ( and with his wife, Jennifer.  

What, ultimately, is the value of social media?

“Social media, like any form of communication, is a neutral thing. It can be used to bring us closer to God and others, or it can work to pull us away. 

“What’s different, though, about social media is that it is addictive and absorbing in a way that simply writing a letter isn’t. That’s the element of which it’s important to be wary. They can distract us from other important things, and we can end up spending hours on passing fads — and contemporary technology changes so fast, they’re all passing fads, really.

“In 10 years, are you going to care how many Facebook friends you have? Or whose Twitter feed you kept up with back in 2011? I doubt it. But you and I will remember the lasting friendships we’ve made — and for me, indeed, some of those friendships have been made and sustained through the Internet and social media. Social media has its place for those who enjoy it. But I think those of us who use it — me included! — would do well to do a daily examination of conscience as to whether or not our use of social media is the best use of the time God gave us today.” 

Amy Welborn, Catholic freelance writer and author of “Come Meet Jesus: An Invitation from Pope Benedict XVI” (Word Among Us, $11.95)  

How Do Catholics Evangelize Through the New Media?

“Catholics can begin to employ the social media to evangelize by providing a personal witness of charity. It’s easier for our charity to shine through with social media because there is such a thin veil between technology and the people using that technology. Conversely, it is also easier for us to cause scandal through inappropriate and mean-spirited behavior. 

“We should remember then that even if something we do takes place online, we are still the ones making the choice about what to type on our keyboard or text through our phone. In this way, our online presence should be in harmony with our offline lives, and the better we evangelize and use the social media for the right purposes, the more we can grow into virtuous people in all facets of our life.” 

Thomas Peters, Catholic blogger ( and contributor to the forthcoming OSV book, “The Church and the New Media: Blogging Converts, Online Activists, and Bishops who Tweet.” 

How Much Access to the New Media Should Parents Allow Their Kids to Have?

“In my work, I’ve encountered two different camps of parents. The first are so concerned about the media (and with good reason) that they almost totally limit their kids’ access to it. The other camp adopts the attitude that says, ‘My kids are good kids, and I’m going to trust them.’ Then they just let them have at it. Both attitudes, however, are wrong. 

“There has to be middle ground. We can’t throw the baby out with the bath water, but we also have to set guidelines and stick with them. There needs to be balance. There needs to be an awareness of what’s out there and what is and isn’t good for kids. And we need to make sure that we’re always putting Christ first.”  

Teresa Tomeo, OSV columnist and author of “Noise: How Our Media Saturated Culture Dominates Lives and Dismantles Family” (Ascension Press, $12.99)   

Has Technology Changed the Rules of Engagement for the Church and the Media?

“Many years ago, a reporter phoned me one day and out of a clear blue sky asked me what my definition of good public relations was. Without thinking, I said, ‘Do the right thing and tell people about it.’ The reporter apparently liked that, because he quoted me with approval in what he wrote. I suppose it was a bit simplistic, but I also believe it’s correct. If people in authority in the Church and people representing the Church in the media world would keep it in mind and consistently live by it, the Church would be in better shape image-wise than it now is. And you know what? Technique and technology have next to nothing to do with it.”

Russell Shaw, contributing editor, Our Sunday Visitor 

Return to main In Focus article here