Vatican’s New Directive Draws Lines Over Criticisms On Social Media

Catholic Church May Change Rules Over Social Media

( – To many, the Roman Catholic Church and the Pope who leads it are the epitome of Conservative values when it comes to things such as abortion and homosexual relations. However, many priests and bishops, especially in the United States, believe that Pope Francis is taking the church and, by extension the parishioners, too far to the Left with his doctrines. Some have been very vocal in their opinions, especially on social media. The latest Vatican document seems to be addressing that criticism.

Papal Rebuke?

There is no doubt that the Internet and social media platforms have allowed for information to be more easily shared and for people to maintain contact with one another, especially during the lockdowns of recent years. But, it has also given way to a more fractured society along political and ideological lines between the Left/Democrats and Right/Republicans, and some see the Vatican’s new directive as being aimed squarely at those who have opposed Pope Francis and his reforms.

Besides being a religious order, the Vatican is an independent nation with departments similar to the ones that make up the presidential cabinet in America. The division tasked with overseeing all communication around the world recently published “A Pastoral Reflection on Engagement with Social Media,” credited to the group’s prefect, Paolo Ruffini, to address the issues.

The paper addressed “the problem of polemical [belligerent, combative] and superficial, and thus divisive, communication,” especially when it comes from members of the church hierarchy and layperson leaders. Ruffini condemned what he calls “an adversarial spirit” leading to “digital tribalism,” which he then related to the parable of the Good Samaritan who crossed tribal lines when he came upon an injured stranger.

Traditionalists Punished

Some high-profile American Catholic church bishops/archbishops have publicly opposed the Pope’s positions on the LGBTQ+ community, abortion, and politics, which at times has come at a high cost to the men for doing so. One example is former priest Reverend Frank Pavone, who was “dismissed from the clerical state” or defrocked by the Vatican on November 9, 2022.

Pavone had little doubt as to the reasons why he was removed from the priesthood — his hard-line stance on abortion and his support for former President Donald Trump. After he was notified of the decision that he had been found guilty of “blasphemous communications on social media,” he responded on his own Twitter page with a message comparing what happened to him with what happens to an aborted fetus.

Perhaps fueling his suspicion, the Vatican felt it was necessary to describe him as “the founder of the organization, [sic] Priests for Life, Inc.” and the letter from their official ambassador to the United States announcing it to priests and bishops in the country called him “a high profile figure associated with the Right to Life Movement.”

Another example of pushback would be San Francisco dioceses Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, who famously excommunicated Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) when she was Speaker of the House for her pro-abortion stance.

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