MANCHESTER, England (CNS) — An English bishop asked Catholics to use Lent as a time to repent of sins committed on social media.
Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth described the uncharitable use of blogs, Facebook and Twitter as a “grave matter.”
Using social media for abuse or to attack the reputations of other people was a direct sin against the Eighth Commandment, forbidding people from “bearing false witness” against their neighbors, he said in a pastoral letter released March 19.
“We must exercise discretion, respect others and their privacy and not engage in slander, gossip and rash judgment,” the bishop wrote in the document that was to be distributed in parishes the weekend of March 22-23.
“We must avoid calumny, that is, slurring and damaging people, and not spread abroad their sins and failings,” he said.
The bishop encouraged the faithful to ask themselves “How do I use Facebook or Twitter? Am I charitable when blogging? Do I revel in other people’s failings?
“All this is grave matter,” he said.
“Yet when we think of our news media and TV, in which fallen celebrities are pilloried, reputations shredded and people’s sins exposed, it sometimes seems our popular culture thrives on breaking this commandment,” he added.
Bishop Egan invited parishioners to turn away from such sins by praying regularly and by participating in the sacrament of reconciliation.
The bishop’s comments came a week after Bishop Michael Campbell of Lancaster asked a deacon in his diocese “to voluntarily pause from placing new posts” on his Protect the Pope blog.
Bishop Campbell also asked Deacon Nick Donnelly “to enter into a period of prayer and reflection on the duties involved for ordained bloggers/website administrators to truth, charity and unity in the church,” according to a statement released by the Lancaster Diocese in early March.
The blog often was controversial because it was critical of the actions of church leaders, accusing them of violating church teaching.
Since Deacon Donnelly agreed to Bishop Campbell’s request, guest bloggers have been invited to submit posts to the blog. A regular writer is Martina Donnelly, the deacon’s wife.
Father Tim Finigan, a priest of London’s Southwark Archdiocese and author of the Hermeneutic of Continuity blog, questioned in a March 16 post the “practical wisdom of attempting to censor the blogosphere.” He argued that censored bloggers would find new ways to express their thoughts.
In a time to build, CatholicPhilly.com connects people and communities
As society emerges from the loss and separation of the pandemic, CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you join in our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103