The Vatican hopes to harness the power of bloggers in order to “further the Christian message” at a May 2 conference.
The event is being hosted by the Pontifical Council for Culture. One of their key organizers is Richard Rouse. He told CNA that convention is not, as some bloggers have suggested, a Vatican attempt to centralize, command or control.
“No, there's no way we can control the blogosphere. Actually what we can do is we can harness some of its great power and dynamism in order to further the Christian message, the Gospel message, and it's important we do that.”
When the idea of a Catholic bloggers convention was first floated earlier this year it instantly attracted a great deal of online attention. Over 750 individuals applied to attend. Through a lottery, the number was whittled down to 150.
What does the Vatican hope to learn from attendees?
“We expect to have to face up to a new reality. There's a new way of communicating, a new way of relating, a new way of talking and expressing opinions and formulating community. It's important that the Church is part of that; we want to open ourselves up to this experience,” says Rouse.
The Vatican is already in the process of overhauling its online presence. Its various social communications outlets, such as Vatican Radio and the Vatican Press Office, are currently drawing their separate websites into one easy-to-find portal. Meanwhile the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, just overhauled its website and will include a daily news service in English.
If the Vatican knows what it wants from the meeting, what does it hope bloggers will take away from it?
“I hope that they will take away a sense that we are interested in them, not just as lurkers reading what they have to say, but also in a sense of a pastoral dialogue, of walking a road together, of understanding what it means to be human today, of what we can do together to make the world a better place, how we can form groups and associations, work in the spheres of politics, academic study, thought, develop our theology, develop our way of being part of the human community today,” Rouse explains.