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The 17th ´´European Christian Internet Conference´´
“To reflect on the opportunities which the web offers to Christianity” was the purpose of the 17th meeting of the European Christian Internet Conference (ECIC) held in Rome June 11-14. The ecumenical body represents European Christian Churches committed in the evangelizing mission through the new technologies. Some 50 participants, including representatives of the Lutheran Churches of Northern Europe, the Ecumenical Council of Churches and of Evangelical Churches, focused their reflection on the strategies aimed at reaching out to people in mobility by proposing a path of evangelization. The theme of the meeting was “Reaching people in the mobile world”. In his opening remarks, Msgr. Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, underlined that “the greatest challenge of our times is to establish concrete dialogue by means of digital culture originated from the new technologies”, by “addressing special attention to the respect of other people’s truth, in the awareness that we are living in a multicultural and multireligious society”.
Web, faith and spirituality. Participants in the meeting promoted in the Rome with the support of the Italian Catholic Webmasters’ association (WeCa) have also had the opportunity of taking a close glance to the communication media of the Holy See. In a visit to the “Vatican Radio they listened to the voice of the protagonists. Father Federico Lombardi, Director of the Press Office of the Holy See, who highlighted Web and digital technology as an opportunity to reach out to the greatest number of people. “The mission -pointed out fr. Lombardi - is always the same: to spread the Word of God and be at the service of the Pope and of the Church in contemporary society”. Msgr. Paul Tighe, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, added that “digital space is authentic and it is necessary to find the most sensible way of being there and make sure that Christ’s message reaches everyone, especially the youth”. To this regard he exemplified the presence of the Holy See in the web with www.news.va[>>], the portal that collects news from various Vatican media. “The Holy See doesn’t use the Internet as if it were a deposit but with a strategy that follows cultural, evangelical and missionary criteria”, said Msgr. Lucio Adrian Ruiz, head office of the Vatican Internet Service, presenting the various realities of the “great family of Vatican websites”. The web, said father Antonio Spadaro, director of the “Civilta’ Cattolica” magazine, “isn’t the wrong place to seek God” because the “technological man” is at the same time also “spiritual”. Technology, added fr. Spadaro, “is one of the most interesting forms of spirituality, as it’s the place where man’s freedom is encouraged”.
Implemented creativity. “Participants were enthusiastic about the meeting with the directors of Vatican communication services”, said Ralf Peter Reimann, Evangelical pastor of Düsseldorf (Germany), who attended the encounter. “We were informed about a plethora of websites and web applications that most of us were unaware of”. The ecumenical dimension played an equally important role in this 17th annual meeting. “This is the fourth ECIC meeting I attend - pointed out Annegret Kapp, from the World Council of Churches - and I continue perceiving the great force deriving from our friendship, from the sharing of ideals and moments of prayer, and from the discovery that as Christians what unites us is much more than what divides us”, as the creativity that emerged in the workshops. For example, Marja Pesonen, who works for the Lutheran Finnish Church, said that a great deal of her work is centered on a communication campaign and services for adult catechumen. “With our website we provide support all those who wish to become Christians and are undertaking their initiation path. They have many questions and perplexities. They need dynamic tools for interaction”. This commitment includes training for the young, for whom the Lutheran Church in Finland has invested a lot of its resources. “Many families are still unfamiliar with this sector that includes new media training for the youth- pointed out Lutheran pastor Juha Kinanen, tasked with the Christian formation of youth in Helsinki - so they appreciate the fact that the Lutheran Church wishes to follow the integral development of their children”. Projects submitted during the meeting include: www.svenskakyrkan.se[>>], a mobile application for the pastoral care of the faithful presented by the Lutheran Church in Sweden; www.geistreich.de[>>], a website of Germany’s Evangelical Churches designed to collect best proposals for pastoral care and solidarity in order to provide financial support for their implementation; www.uskotoivorakkaus.fi[>>], the first experiment of web-TV created by the Lutheran communities in Finland and www.jiipeenetti.fi[>>], media education program coordinated by Juha Kinanen for Finland’s Lutheran Church.