“I think, actually, we have kind of an obligation to sanctify social media,” the bishop said.
Bishop Flores spoke on social media use at a press conference during the “Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America” event on July 2 in Orlando, Florida. Joining him in the press conference were Dr. Hosffman Ospino, associate professor of theology and religious education at Boston College; Archbishop Wilton Daniel Gregory of Atlanta; and Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, D.C.
Consultant and member of the Vatican's Secretariat for Communication Kim Daniels also brought up the opportunity presented by social media in a July 3 speech at the convocation. In many ways, she commented, social media is a modern “periphery” where many whose needs are overlooked gather together.
“It's clear that we need to engage people where they are, and the place where people are is social media on their own devices,” she said. “We know this is a great advantage for us to have this opportunity to reach out.”
Daniels also said that the Church has millennia of experience in communicating and bringing people together that it can give to online spaces.
“We know what it is to be a global interconnective network. We know that these kinds of communities need stability, and they need fidelity, and they need mercy, and relation and we can bring those gifts there.”
For an example of these kinds of gifts being used in the Church today, Daniels said to look at Pope Francis as an “extraordinary communicator.” His enthusiasm, honesty, frank discussion, and resistance to jargon makes him effective at bringing the Gospel to the peripheries, even online, she said.
“He brings something very substantive.”
Bishop Flores agreed with the need to bring substance and Christ to online spaces. “There's one thing I do every day, and that's that I will tweet out the Gospel of the day,” he said of his own personal Twitter use.
“If there's anything I want people to know about the bishop it's that the first thing he does in the morning is tell you about something Jesus said in the Gospel, because that's the context from which we have to speak.”
“Maybe you're not going to get a lot of followers if you comment on the Gospel every day, but it has an effect.”
However, bishops and Catholics can use social media in other worthwhile ways, Bishop Flores stressed. “I have a Twitter and I probably have more fun with it than I should,” he joked.
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
He said that he often takes group pictures of his confirmation classes, and the confirmande will share his photos online and discuss their confirmation.
“It gives them a chance to say that they're happy to be Catholic.”
Their diocese also helps high school students utilize social media to develop skills in journalism through the diocese's Mobile Journalism Project.
“We help get some mobile equipment for high school students who want to learn about journalism, because they're out there everywhere,” Bishop Flores said.
After the students take pictures or write stories, the diocesean communications office will share them and give feedback. “It helps them get the idea that they can do this,” he said of the program's impact on students.
Cardinal Wuerl also pointed to the need for bishops to play a more active role on social media, acknowledging the challenges it brings for those who didn't grow up online.