USA Today Hints Hypocrisy in Catholic Church Views on Lenten Technology Use

March 6th, 2009 12:28 PM

USA Today's Cathy Lynn Grossman sought to create a rift between Pope Benedict XVI and Italian clerics in a March 4 blog post, "'Virtually' signing off technology for Lent?"

The rage among some Italian dioceses is to call on Catholics to shut off the Internet connection, put down the I-pod and chill out on texting for the Lenten fast.

This may contradict the pope, who just recently extolled social networking to forge worldwide understanding and approved a Vatican channel on YouTube. (I wonder if they shut that down for Lent?)

Grossman apparently has trouble reconciling the Vatican's desire to engage social media outlets to reach out to young Catholics and evangelize potential converts with the pastoral counsel from priests and bishops that fasting from too much of a good thing -- such as text messaging -- may help sharpen one's spiritual devotion during the Lenten season:

Isn't the essential relationship of faith inherently virtual -- humankind reaching toward an unseen God?

No one suggested abstaining from words or hymns -- the ancient forms of addressing God, expressing love, and sharing faith. So why rap modern means of soul-to-soul connections?

Of course Christians would disagree a bit with Grossman. Rather than "humankind reaching toward an unseen God," Christianity is the story of God reaching out to a rebellious, sinful mankind by the incarnation, sinless life, atoning death and glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ. In worshipful response to this truth, the Christian lives a life of repentance and faith in Christ.

That aside, Grossman seems to confuse the benefit of text messaging other human beings with taking time to commune with God by prayer, worship, fasting, and Bible study. The "modern soul-to-soul connection" from Facebook, texting, Twitter, etc. is nowhere near the spiritual importance of communing with God by traditional disciplines such as prayer. A religion editor such as Grossman, should understand that to be the aim of clerics such as the Catholic bishop of Modena, Italy.

Instead the USA Today staffer closes her blog post with a flippant remark:

Somewhere, someone may be texting a prayer, perhaps one for the low-tech/no-tech bishop of Modena.