3rd AMECEA/IMBISA Pastoral Communications and Social Action Course
Internet: A New Forum for Proclaiming the Gospel
1. Introduction: Each participant mentions his or her personal experience using e-mail and the Internet (World Wide Web).
2. Communications Media Timeline:
1450-1456: Latin Edition of the Gutenberg Bible printed in Mainz, Germany. First book to be printed with movable metal type. The first Bible in ordinary language that ordinary people (non-clerics) could read and study. 47 copies survive. Inventor: Johannes Gutenberg.
1946: First electronic digital computer built that filled a huge room. Today a single microprocessor, a device the size of a fingernail, can do the same work as that pioneering machine.
Late 1960s: Internet began to take shape. Through its Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), the United States Defense Department initiated ARPANet, a network of university and military computers.
1981: The first IBM personal computer introduced.
1991: Arrival of the World Wide Web (www or the “Web”).
Internet is a vast network of computers that connects many of the world’s businesses, institutions, and individuals. The Internet, which is short for interconnected network of networks, links tens of thousands of smaller computer networks. It enables users of computers and other networked devices throughout the world to send and receive messages, share information in a variety of forms, and even play computer games with people thousands of miles or kilometers away. Computers linked to the Internet range from simple and inexpensive personal computers, often called PCs, to huge mainframe computers used by government institutions, educational institutions and businesses. Other devices linked to the Internet include sophisticated telephones and webcams.
The Internet, often called simply the “Net,” began as a collection of text-only documents intended for scientists, universities, and some parts of government. But the development and rapid growth of the World Wide Web (also known as the “Web”) transformed the presentation of information on the Net. The Web is a worldwide system of interconnected computer files linked to one another on the Net. It enables the use of multimedia—which includes photographs, moving pictures and sound as well as text. Multimedia presentations on the Web approach the visual quality of television and the audio (sound) quality of recorded music.
The Web consists of millions of Websites, collections of information at specific electronic addresses. Websites in turn contain Web pages that hold multimedia or text-only information. Websites and their pages reside in computers connected to the Internet.
Cyberspace is the on-line world of computer networks.
Internet service provider (ISP) is a company that connects a user’s computer to the Internet, the global network of computers. For example, Africa Online, Wananchi, iKenya, Raha, America Online. They give access to free e-mail services such as Yahoo and Hotmail.
Computer is a device that processes information with astonishing speed and accuracy.
World Wide Web is a system of computer files linked together on the Internet.
Uniform resource locator (URL) is an address on the Internet. It is like a website’s electronic address that ends with .com, .org, .edu, .net, .gov, .co.ke, .co.zm, co.zw, etc.
Search Engine is a type of index or catalogue used to find information that is stored on computers. The search sites (for example, Google Search Engine) use various robot/spider/crawler programmes to build their indices/catalogues.
3. Other Important Information:
a. Internet is a new language, a new medium of communications, a new mass medium. We used to say that the four mass media are radio, television, press and film. Then video especially via television came along. Now the Internet, a new electronic medium. We live in the Internet Age. NOTE: I have prepared much of the material in these presentations by actually going to the Internet (that is, “online”). Some terminology and expressions:
i. IT (Information Technology).
ii. Electronic communications/Internet communications.
iii. Web Radio/Internet Radio. NOTE: Example of listening to radio
programmes especially music on the Internet. Listening to Catholic programmes on the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) Radio – Voice of Kenya (VOK). Listening to Kikuyu music on a Kikuyu Radio Station via the Internet.
b. Internet requires a new way/style of communicating. The text is shorter and more focused than a newspaper or magazine article. We cannot simply transfer our print media texts to our websites. The challenge of writing/creating specifically for the Internet. Graphics such as photographs, designs and interactive materials are very important.
c. Accessing material “online” and “offline.” You can use offline browsing software that download the sites you need and saves them on the hard drive of your computer. Then you can view these sites as many times as you want without reconnecting to the Internet.
4. Quotations from Redemptoris Missio (The Mission of the Church) – Encyclical Letter of Pope John Paul II. 7 December, 1990. No. 37c: ” At that time the Areopagus represented the culture centre of the learned people of Athens, and today it can be taken as a symbol of the new sectors in which the Gospel must be proclaimed. The first Areopagus of the modern age is the world of communications, which is unifying humanity and turning it into what is known as a “global village.” See Acts 17:22-27: “Paul standing in the middle of the Areopagus…”
5. Quotations from Ecclesia in Africa (The Church in Africa) — Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation of John Paul II. 14 September, 1995.
No. 71: “The Synod paid great attention to the mass media under two important and complementary aspects: as a new and emerging cultural world and as a series of means serving communication. First of all, they constitute a new culture that has its own language and above all its own specific values and counter-values.”
No. 124: “The modern mass media are not only instruments of communication, but also a world to be evangelized.”
6. Quotations from The Church and Internet and Ethics in Internet – issued by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. 22 February, 2002. Published by Paulines Publications Africa, 2002. The documents arise from a social sensibility that appeals to the Church to work actively to avoid a “digital breach” or “digital divide”, namely the gap between those known as “info-poor” and the “info-rich.”
No. 5 of The Church and Internet: “It also provides the Church with a means for communicating with particular groups—young people and young adults, the elderly and home-bound, persons living in remote areas, the members of other religious bodies—who otherwise may be difficult to reach.”
No. 7 of Ethics in Internet: “The Internet has a number of striking features. It is instantaneous, immediate, worldwide, decentralized, interactive, endlessly expandable in contents and outreach, flexible and adaptable to a remarkable degree. It is egalitarian.”
I found these two documents too theoretical with a lot of emphasis on the mass media in general but not enough on the “uniqueness” of the Internet as the newest mass medium.
7. Quotations from Pope John Paul II’s Message for the 36th World Communications Day 2002: “Internet: A New Forum for Proclaiming the Gospel” (“Internet [“Mdahalishi” au “Mtandao”] ni Mbinu Mpya ya Uenezaji Injili”). Issued 24 January, 2002. Celebrated in Kenya on May 12, 2002, in Tanzania on 4 August, 2002, etc. The message uses fresh, up-to-date language. See the poster produced by The Seed Magazine on “Internet: A Challenge to Evangelization” (insert in the April, 2002 issue).
Meaning of the word “forum:” a. The marketplace or public place of an ancient Roman city forming the center of judicial and public business. b: a public meeting place for open discussion. c : a medium of communications (as a newspaper) of open discussion or expression of ideas.
No. 2. “The age of the great discoveries, the Renaissance and the invention of printing, the Industrial Revolution and the birth of the modern world: these too were threshold moments which demanded new forms of evangelization. Now, with the communications and information revolution in full swing, the Church stands unmistakably at another decisive gateway.”
No. 3. “It is important, therefore, that the Christian community think of very practical ways of helping those who first make contact through the Internet to move from the virtual world of cyberspace to the real world of Christian community. At a subsequent stage, the Internet can also provide the kind of follow-up which evangelization requires.”
No. 5. “The fact that through the Internet people multiply their contacts in ways hitherto unthinkable opens up wonderful possibilities for spreading the Gospel… How can we ensure that the information and communications revolution which has the Internet as its prime engine will work in favour of the globalization of human development and solidarity, objectives closely linked to the Church’s evangelizing mission?”
No. 6. “The Internet causes billions of images to appear on millions of computer monitors around the planet. From this galaxy of sight and sound will the face of Christ emerge and the voice of Christ be heard? For it is only when his face is seen and his voice heard that the world will know the glad tidings of our redemption. This is the purpose of evangelization. And this is what will make the Internet a genuinely human space, for if there is no room for Christ, there is no room for man.”
All these annual messages from 1979-2002 in six languages are on the Vatican Website at: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/messages/communications/index.htm
I. E-mail (“Barua Pepe”) Mailing Lists (one-way communications from the Sender to the Receiver with no exchange or direct feedback). Called a ListServe or List. With or without File Attachments. Normally a free subscription. A message can be sent instantaneously everywhere in the world and can in turn be multiplied and further disseminated through other mailing lists.
1. Messages containing announcements, information, news, Press Releases, documents, agendas of meetings, greetings, etc.:
a. Easter or Christmas greetings to multiple addresses (Mailing List).
b. Portal of Truth Series by Chaz Maviyane-Davies in Zimbabwe in January-March, 2002 with File Attachment of powerful images or graphics on political and social issues.
c. Case Study: Mission Awareness Committee (MAC)’s collaboration with the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS), Tanzania to disseminate Pope John Paul II’s 2001 Message for World Mission Sunday in English and Swahili. Presently electronically “stored” on the Vatican Website, Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers Africa Region Website (www.maryknollafrica.org), Parish Without Borders Website (http://parish-without-borders.net), etc. Also available from CISA by e-mail. See the NOTE: DOCUMENTS AVAILABLE IN FULL ON REQUEST FROM CISA.
2. Electronic News Services, Newsletters:
a. Catholic Information Service for Africa (CISA). Founded by a group of international religious congregations. Presently 1000 subscribers.
b. ZENIT International News Agency (“The World Seen from Rome”).
c. MISNA (Missionary Service News Agency).
d. AMECEA News and AMECEA Documentation Service (ADS).
Website: http://www.rc.net/africa/amecea and http://www.amecea.org
e. Habari Zetu – monthly newsletter of the Catholic Archdiocese Mombasa, Kenya. Published by Lwanga Communications Department and sent by File Attachment.
i. Speed: Instant distribution.
ii. Lower cost (no postage, less handling).
iii. Non-geographical – can be sent from or to anywhere in Africa or the world. Editor can write and send a document from anywhere he or she is at the moment.
II. E-mail Discussion Lists (two-way participatory communications between the Sender and the Receiver with exchange and feedback). The “discussion” takes place through the exchange of written text and graphics/photographs. Called a ListServe or List. With or without File Attachments. Normally a free subscription. A message can be sent instantaneously everywhere in the world and can in turn be multiplied and further disseminated through other discussion lists.
1. “CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) and Pastoral Care in Africa” (from Bugando Medical Centre, Mwanza, Tanzania). E-mail: email@example.com
2. “Missiology” (from Pretoria, South Africa). E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Case Study and Offline Demonstration: African Proverbs, Sayings and Stories E-mail Discussion List (from Nairobi, Kenya). About 170 subscribers.
III. Internet Websites (World Wide Web)
1. Vatican Website (English): http://www.vatican.va/phome_en.htm
Using website Search Feature for “Internet:” 18 categories and 52 pages (documents).
2. SECAM – SCEAM: http://www.secam-sceam.org
3. Case Study and Offline Demonstration: AMECEA Website: http://www.rc.net/africa/amecea and http://www.amecea.org
Using Google Search Engine:
Searched the web for IMBISA.
Results 1 – 10 of about 213. Search took 0.58 seconds.
5. Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA): www.cuea.edu
6. Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC): http://www.rc.net/tanzania/tec
Dar es Salaam Archdiocese: http://www.rc.net/tanzania/tec/dsmweb/contents.htm
Radio Tumaini/Video Tumaini Website: http://radiotumaini.tripod.com
7. Case Study and Offline Demonstration: African Proverbs, Sayings and Stories Website: www.afriprov.org See sample of the “Home Page” or “Front Page.” See article on “African Proverbs Project” in handout of the July, 2001 issue of UMSG News. Also features such as the “Daily African Proverb,” “2002 African Proverbs Calendar” and “E-Books” (Electronic Books) and “Meetings.”
8. For additional Catholic Websites see the April, 2002 issue of The Seed.
IV. African, Christian and General Resources
1. Catholic Church in Africa Website: http://www.rc.net/africa/catholicafrica
Excellent resource coordinated by Father John Mutiso in Rome, Italy including statistics, structures, educational institutions, the African Synod, Church History, website addresses and LINKS to other useful websites.
2. Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers Africa Region Website: www.maryknollafrica.org Contains detailed information on different African countries and ministries/apostolates. Use the Search Feature.
3. MisLinks (Mission Links) Website: www.mislinks.org (worldwide)
4. Refdesk Website (for facts on the Net): http://www.refdesk.com
5. Google Search Engine: http://www.google.com Use the Search Feature for any African, Christian or General Topic.
6. Metasearch Engines – that search many individual search engines:
a. IX Quick Metasearch Engine (searches 11 search engines): http://ixquick.com
b. QuickBrowse Metasearch Engine (searches 17 search engines): http://www.qbsearch.com
c. Copernic 2001 Basic Metasearch Engine (searches 80 search engines): http://www.copernic.com
d. Specialized search engines by country, language, content, etc.
FINAL SESSION: In the last period of the day each participant writes on paper one specific action that he or she will do to use the Internet to proclaim the Gospel and then share it with the whole group.
Rev. Joseph G. Healey, M.M.
P.O. Box 867
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania