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Upcoming media campaign crucial for digital evangelization efforts

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In a recent YouTube video message directed to the faithful, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge said that the upcoming Catholic Communication Campaign, the weekend of May 26 - 27 in the Diocese of Arlington offers him, as well as the entire church in the United States, a major opportunity to effectively advance the Good News in this digital era of podcasts, web video and social media.


“My hope is to bring our diocesan family, and others, closer together through these modern, often digital, means of communication,” Bishop Burbidge said.

For a glimpse of what that means, Bishop Burbidge mentioned his newly launched Walk Humbly podcast. For listeners, the podcast provides an unfiltered link between them and their bishop. The podcast also addresses, via a Q&A, the day-to-day issues that many Catholics face.

“Bishop Burbidge doesn’t turn down tough questions, he takes all of them,” said Billy Atwell. “He’s really been able to present his pastor’s heart to people, and the feedback from the faithful has been great.”

And with financial help from parishioners throughout the diocese, the bishop said that the podcast is “just the beginning” of a broader digital evangelization initiative. 

“We will expand our ability to share the Gospel and inspire the faithful to grow closer to Jesus Christ through the most appropriate and effective platforms available to us,” Bishop Burbidge said.

Unlike most campaigns, there is a double benefit: half of all funds collected goes to national media outreach efforts by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, of which Bishop Burbidge is the chairman-elect of its Committee on Communications, and half of the collection stays in the diocese.

The national effort complements diocesan aims according to Patricia Garcia, director of the USCCB’s Catholic Communication Campaign.

“Media platforms are constantly evolving and the church needs to continually invest in technology to serve our evangelizing mission,” Garcia said. “We don’t know what the next technological breakthrough will be, but we need to be ready to jump on board with whatever may become the next Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat.”

There also can be pitfalls to a digitally saturated culture, a topic addressed in the April 6 Walk Humbly episode in which Atwell asked Bishop Burbidge for his take on rumors then circulating social media and newspapers that Pope Francis denied the existence of hell. 

Bishop Burbidge warned “don’t just read the headline” and proved the falsity of the media claim by citing a March 22, 2014 prayer vigil for victims of organized crime where the pope warned those who caused the violence to reform their ways or risk eternal separation from God. 

Bishop Burbidge also said that journalists should not give in to creating buzz over false stories just because they attract attention, a topic that Atwell will address in the May 13 opening episode of a new podcast, Searching for More. The podcast’s debut coincides with World Communications Day.

In that episode, Atwell fields an in-depth conversation with EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo about the prevalence of “fake news” and the malicious intent behind it, a major theme of Pope Francis’ World Communications Day message.

“These podcasts, and other initiatives by Bishop Burbidge, are also great evangelistic efforts to reach people that aren’t on a traditional mailing list and they are not in the pews to receive a bulletin, but whom we very much want to invite back,” Atwell said. “We continue to support the faithful, absolutely, but the Catholic Communication Campaign is key to extending an invitation to those who have fallen away and are still searching for the truth, wherever they may be.”

The Catholic Herald produced its 50th podcast this week to complement the weekly print newspaper, catholicherald.com, the e-mail newsletter, and social media offerings on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018