Archdiocese of Chicago


Catholic Chicago Blog

Hosted by the Archdiocese of Chicago

About the Blogger

Cardinal George is Archbishop Emeritus of Chicago and is a native Chicagoan.

Monday, June 08, 2009

"Witness to the World"

St. Paul preached the Gospel where people gathered.  As he went from city to city around the Mediterranean Sea, he began speaking in the town squares for the whole society to hear, even as he continued to speak in the synagogues for his own community to hear.  

We preach the Gospel today in the Churches, for believers to hear; and we also preach in the equivalent of the town square for the whole society to hear: newspapers, films, and TV in recent decades.  In the last ten years, the Internet has become a worldwide town square.  How can it be used to preach the Gospel?

I am coming late to the blog, and I enter that world as anyone going to a foreign country with a particular task.  Can I understand the language, can I use it to get my message across?  What is new about e-mail and the blog that grows from it is its interactive nature.  People can talk back and forth and therefore become more involved with one another than is possible just by publishing books and articles or even by appearing on TV.  Since the Gospel always involves the messenger as much as the message itself, blogging would seem to be a good means to preach. 

An immediate problem is: how much of the messenger is really revealed?  Contacts are not relationships, and relationships are not automatically loving.  And love is at the heart of the Gospel: love of God and love of neighbor.  The blog can be anonymous while giving the illusion of forthrightness.  How can it be used for evangelical purposes?

A few months ago, the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, a group with a daunting title, published a letter from Pope Benedict XVI.  He reflects on electronic communication and human relationships. 

The Pope points out that we can now almost instantaneously share words and images “across enormous distances and to some of the most isolated corners of the world.”  The benefits are many.  Families remain in contact; students and researchers share their sources and their results; our deep need to communicate with others is more easily satisfied and new communities spring up. 

The dangers are also obvious.  The quality of the messages and the content carried can destroy genuine respect, dialogue and the growth of friendship.  As Archbishop of Chicago, I sometimes receive messages from people who hate the Church, distort her history and want to use the Internet to wound or destroy her.  Pope Benedict says: “If the new technologies are to serve the good of individuals and of society, all users will avoid the sharing of words and images that are degrading of human beings, that promote hatred and intolerance, that debase the goodness and intimacy of human sexuality or that exploit the weak and vulnerable.”

In the Gospel, Jesus invites us to be his friend and to give our life for one another.  Friendship presupposes presence, and “on-line” presence can never be the equivalent of personal presence.  It is a personal tragedy when the desire for virtual connectedness becomes obsessive and serves to isolate individuals from real social interaction with family and friends and neighbors.  Like any addiction, electronic addictions “disrupt the patterns of rest, silence and reflection that are necessary for healthy human development.”

Catholics and other followers of Jesus can use the Internet to witness to the world.  This Archdiocesan blog will put interested people into contact with me and with others who are responsible for the life and ministries of the Archdiocese.  My prayer is that the community of those who know Jesus in his Church will expand and that our mutual understanding will deepen.

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Monday, June 15, 2009 12:14 PM

I want to take this opportunity to thank readers and commentators on this, the first Chicago Catholic Blog. I am hopeful that this form of dialog can be used for evangelization and I look forward to future exchanges about our faith, our local Church and the people and communities served by the Archdiocese of Chicago.

It is my sincere hope that you will keep this connection alive by your continued participation.

Please keep me in your prayers, as I keep you in mine.

Francis Cardinal George, OMI

Friday, June 12, 2009 10:48 AM

Congratulations, Cardinal George!
I'm also trying to spread the Gospel in this way. I'll pray for all of your endeavors.

Fr. Brian

Fr. Brian D.

Friday, June 12, 2009 7:44 AM



Thursday, June 11, 2009 9:25 PM

To preach the Gospel with humility is a daunting task. To approach this task with addictive purposes I would agree is not in the best interest of the Church.

If we truly love our neighbor should critism of that neighbor be challenged or silenced? How do deal with differences?

Time is closing in on all us. Should we not use the time left to uplift, and support each other?

I pray that your blog will uplift people in their daily struggles. I also pray that you will encourage respectful dialogue around differences.

This blog will either be used as a tool of communication in your tool kit, or it will become yet another white paper of princley words that is not based in the lives of the people of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

For the Good of the Church in Chicago I wish you well.

God Bless,

Joe Murray

Joe M.

Thursday, June 11, 2009 8:15 PM

Paul, et al:

My understanding of the Cardinal's write-up is that while it is clear that the Internet can communicate information, can it touch us in our hearts with the Gospel? These are not the same things. As the Cardinal says, "Contacts are not relationships, and relationships are not automatically loving. And love is at the heart of the Gospel: love of God and love of neighbor."

Although I use the Web for reading about faith issues, I have argued strongly against relying so much on technology for evangelizing. I would also argue that with so much information on the Web that there is the issue of receiving very fragmented information and IMO, this can be just as useless as no information. My recommendation is strengthening outreach & catechesis in the parishes. I suggest that each Vicariate have an adult education program. These programs would provide remedial adult catechesis to those of us who got caught in the post Vatican II changes. A strong faith starts with an understanding of the basics and how many of us can say that we thoroughly understand the basics of our Faith?

Francine J.

Thursday, June 11, 2009 2:25 PM

Your Eminence,

Congratulations on your blog, and welcome to this wonderful new world. I entered this world with my own blog a few months ago on behalf of World Library Publications/JS Paluch, located here in the Archdiocese of Chicago. You have chosen an effective new tool for evangelization. Be assured of my prayers and support.

Jerry G.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009 10:42 PM

Dear Cardinal George,

I wish you well on this endeavor. I hope your blog will be a genuine source of Good News. For me it will be another way to stay in touch with my Chicago roots.

Ruth Ann

Ruth Ann P.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009 8:54 PM

Dear Cardinal:

I'm a big fan of you and many of our Bishops. Thank you for speaking out on the difficult issues that seem to be compounding everyday. I look forward to your words. God bless

Eleanor R.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009 7:04 PM

Thank you, your Eminence, for utilizing this new medium for the New Evangelization.

God bless you!

Andy K.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009 11:33 AM

In consideration of how much many of us use the internet, and find negative and useless blogs, I believe this is a very good and essential tool. In reading not so long ago on depression, and how people are now more exposed to the negativity of life issues, and the cause of suicide is 1 in every minute, this blog will help those that are consistantly involved with negative issues to find light at the end of the tunnel. This is not the only means of communication, but it is another format of it, and one that is being used periodically. I strongly believe this is a helpful source for many of us. It helps us avoid all the garbage being exposed out there.

Thank you

Jackie M.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009 9:05 AM

I'm sorry, Paul but I do not read the Cardinal's comments the same way. I think he is saying that abusing a blog (or anything for that matter--my comment) can be demeaning and unproductive. If the aim is to reflect together and discern how best to live out the gospel to the betterment of our life and the life of our community then doing so in a respectful and loving manner is the model to follow. I have personally seen how a blog devoted to bringing down someone can be a hateful and evil thing that accomplishes nothing but discord and disunity. I don't know how successful this blog will be, but if done in honesty and openness to ALL viewpoints expressed, then a real conversation might take place. Peace and joy.

Margie G.

Monday, June 08, 2009 4:06 PM

I think this is going to be awesome. Once again our Archdiocese expanding on ways for it to reach its people and for its people to reach them! Blog on! I only hope the people of our archdiocese will use this extraordinary chance to speak to its leaders, fellow parishioners, and fellow citizens of the Archdiocese of Chicago as well as people of other faiths and religious beliefs to have a more open communication with us. Amen.

Nick W.

Monday, June 08, 2009 2:02 PM

Hey Cardinal! What gives??? You’re writing a blog telling us that all this internet/web/electronic stuff is BAD for us??? That all this electronic communication can become a “personal tragedy”? That we could get addicted to what, your blog? Maybe I’m missing something here, but it does seem like kind of a mixed message for what looks like a first effort to get people to read your blog.

Paul E.

Monday, June 08, 2009 11:57 AM

I applaud your initiative. What a wonderful tool for all of us to share our ideas!


Karen D.

Monday, June 08, 2009 11:56 AM

I’m so very glad to see that Cardinal George now has a blog! There are so many unhappy and useless blogs out there that it makes it difficult to find something worthwhile and uplifting to read on the web. Also I didn’t know that the Pope published a letter about electronic communications until I read it here in the Cardinal’s blog message. Very helpful.

Helen K.

Monday, June 08, 2009 11:53 AM

Dear Cardinal George:

Thank you for this gift of communication. May the Lord bless this endeavor.

God bless.

Jim F.

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