Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, chairman of the Doctrine Committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will present the statement “Contemporary Challenges and Opportunities for the Exercise of the teaching Ministry of the Diocesan Bishop” to be voted on by the entire assembly of bishops.
The statement cites challenges presented by the “quantum leap” in the speed of communications since the invention of the Internet. It demands that bishops “be able to respond immediately when Church teaching is challenged or misrepresented.”
The bishops also face the challenge that amidst many voices in the digital world “a bishop’s voice on the Internet can appear to be just another in the competition for attention” requiring bishops to explain to people the nature of their authority.
The document also points to new opportunities, noting that the new digital media “constitute a blade that can cut two ways.” They “create new difficulties for bishops in the exercise of their teaching office” yet “they also offer powerful new tools for more effective ministry.”
A key benefit of new media is “that they offer the bishop the possibility of communicating with people in a relatively unmediated fashion,” the document said.