On the CARA (Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate of Georgetown University) blog, 1964:CARA’s Research Blog, a new article was recently published that interprets data gathered as part of a study commissioned by the Catholic Press Association to examine the ways in which today’s Catholics engage technology and so-called New Media. The results were interesting and the CARA researchers break down a lot of the information in their piece titled, “New Catholics, New Media: More ‘Bread and Circus’ than Eucharist.” While the number of Catholics who apparently use New Media for spiritual, theological or religious-related use appears lower than one might anticipate in a technologically hegemonic era such as our own time, toward the end of the article in the Q/A section there is a mention of some “very successful Catholic blogs with significant followings,” among which is counted our own DatingGod.org.
As I have written here and elsewhere, the leaders in the Church in general and Pope Benedict XVI in particular have been vocal in recent years about the need for civil and substantive Catholic engagement online and in New Media. While the percentage now seems small, (6% of all Catholics, 8% of Millennials polled read a spiritual or religious blog in the last three months; although nearly 1 in 10 of Millennials does seem significant), one must remember that widespread access to the Internet is only a recent phenomenon both here in the United States and elsewhere in the world. In another twenty years, I would be very surprised if it wasn’t close to 50% or greater.
In the meantime, those who are engaged in Catholic discourse online should be encouraged to continue. And the Pope and other Church leaders should be lauded for actually getting ahead of something of such great evangelical importance, instead of simply resorting to a reactionary stance, which is unfortunately too often the case.