VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Having a Catholic presence online isn’t enough for effective evangelization, the Vatican said. The church must develop “a new way of thinking” in order to find ways that engage and help people meet Christ, it said.

The Pontifical Council for Social Communications announced Sept. 29 that Pope Benedict XVI had chosen “Social Networks: Portals of Truth and Faith; New Spaces for Evangelization” as the theme for World Communications Day 2013. (Read the full announcement here.)

The pope chose the theme in the context of the Year of Faith and amid fresh calls for launching a new evangelization.

The digital environment represents new missionary terrain, given that “technology has emerged as part of the fabric of connectivity of human experiences,” including how people build relationships and seek knowledge, the social communications council said.

Therefore the church needs to ask: Can technology and digital environments “help men and women meet Christ in faith?” the announcement said.

“It is not enough to find an adequate language, but rather, it is necessary to learn how to present the Gospel as the answer to that basic human yearning for meaning and faith, which has already found expression online,” it said.

The new approach will require a new way of thinking because “it is not simply a question of how to use the Internet as a means of evangelization, but instead, (one) of how to evangelize in a context where the lives of people find expression also in the digital arena,” the council said.

The church needs to pay special attention to social networks not only because of their enormous popularity, but because they are places “which privilege dialogical and interactive forms of communication and relationships,” it said.

Most dioceses will celebrate World Communications Day 2013 on May 12, the Sunday before Pentecost. The Vatican will release the pope’s message for the observance Jan. 24, the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron of journalists.

The day’s theme is announced every year on Sept. 29, the feast of the archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael.

– – –

Editors: The council’s complete announcement is available online at: http://press.catholica.va/news_services/bulletin/news/29757.php?index=29757&po_date=29.09.2012&lang=en#TESTO%20IN%20LINGUA%20INGLESE