Since his appointment by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007, Monsignor Tighe has been involved in all the major new media initiatives of the Vatican, including the launch of the @Pontifex Twitter account, News.va portal website, ThePopeApp and the securing of the .Catholic top-level domain (just this week).
I encourage you to read through my notes from his entire address (linked at the bottom). I’ve included three additional links at the bottom of this post. One to the video of the address and one to the photos from the CNMC (courtesy of Pilot New Media of the Archdiocese of Boston). The final is a link to the interview of Msgr. Tighe and CNMC founder, Fr. Roderick Vonhogen, on The Good Catholic Life radio program on October 18.
Ten key insights from Msgr. Tighe’s remarks
(1) Msgr. Tighe and his colleagues from the Pontifical Council for Social Communications (PCCS) travel extensively so that they can learn from social media practitioners who are among the earliest adopters. They only want to recommend proven technologies and platforms to the Vatican and welcome the help of leading edge Catholics throughout the world.
(2) Pope Benedict was interested in getting on Twitter because he was told it could reach those that the Church’s message isn’t currently reaching, and he hoped that we could engage them and then share the Good News of the Gospel.
(3) Pope Benedict and Vatican officials were aware that the Pope's presence on Twitter would be symbolic, both as a recognition to those Catholics already there and also as an encouragement and motivation for those not yet present in this new arena for communication to know that the Pope considered it important.
(4) Msgr. Tighe and his colleagues believe that Scripture verses and synthetic teaching ideas can be shared meaningfully and substantively in 140 characters on Twitter.
(5) News.va is primarily a site to make it easy for Catholic bloggers and those that want to help share the Church’s message to get text, video, audio, photos that they can share. News.va functions as a portal and a mothership. Its Facebook presence effectively shares spiritual reflections and images. ThePopeApp allows all this content to be easily “in one’s pocket” on demand.
(6) Msgr. Tighe encouraged everyone to provide feedback to help News.va become a better portal and he encouraged those in social media to share the material there. He stated “if you’re wondering is there a copyright and do you have the right to share it - share it, use it, and ask forgiveness afterwards. This is Good News we want to share with people. That’s our primary instinct. There are intellectual property issues and we need to think through those as a community and we will do that in a way that is also attentive to the needs of an alternative community. There are no easy solutions. But let’s do this by serious debate and discussion. It will be the most profitable way to do this for all of us.”
(7) Social media produces a new culture and changes communication itself. People learn differently, express themselves differently, create community differently. It is changing the Church in how we form identity, how we form relationships and how we create community.
(8) He said the way we give the Internet a soul isn’t simply Christian presence there, but it’s by making sure that there is a “true, integral, humanity expressed on the Internet. That there is space for spirituality, for questioning, for doubt, for learning. By our receptivity to those, we create a space for the Internet to have a soul, but we’re not the soul. Every human being has deeper questions and we need to create the forum, a framework, and a lack of fear that will allow people to do that meaningfully.”
(9) He said the vocabulary we should use on social media should be entry level. Many meaningful church words such as evangelization, reconciliation, salvation are not entry level words and we shouldn’t presume everyone understands what we mean. We don’t want to lose the rich language of theology and of liturgy, but need to appreciate the difference between entry-level language and richer language we can help people learn and understand after they engage with us.
(10) Pope Francis told the PCCS that in social media we need to see that we’re on a journey with other pilgrims. Everyone is on this journey. We shouldn’t be way ahead of others or we shouldn’t be way behind them. We walk with them. He said we should strive to bring them to meet Christ and accompany them on the journey. He said, in social media, we’re there to do three things: to listen, to converse and to encourage. We want to let the messages of Christ and of their Church warm the hearts of so many people in the world that are struggling.