In 2005, facebook was only a little over a year old and twitter did not yet exist. Youtube was in its infancy. And while we did have the 24 hour news cycle back then, unless you were at home, on your own time, you had no way of knowing what was going on until you got home or at least in your car.
Fast-forward eight years. You get alerts on your phone when smoke comes out of the Sistine Chapel chimney. Two twitter accounts have already been established for the seagull(s) who keep perching atop the chimney. And EWTN is not even bothering with coverage because it is so pervasive elsewhere. All the major networks have webcams trained on the chimney waiting for any sign. Any at all.
This is it people. THIS is the true face of the New Evangelization. People are being reached on desktops, laptops, tablets, and phones. Back in 05, no one knew what an “app” was. Today the Conclave has it’s own app. We now know that in four votes there is not a Pope. (We are one above the number of votes it took to elect Benedict.) And Catholics and non-Catholics are awaiting that plume of white that has one more chance to make itself known today.
In 2005 we had no idea what it meant to be “trending” nor did we download anything to our mobile devices that would alert us to each new puff of smoke. For a Church that so many claim is no longer relevant, we sure are garnering a lot of attention.
The digital age is a good, no it’s a GREAT, thing for Catholicism and this Conclave. People are being introduced to, well no, bombarded with information no matter where they go. Now, granted some of it, is not accurate and may even be negative. However, because so much of it is positive. Because people like ME are being loud and proud about Catholicism someone using searching for #Vatican or #Conclave on twitter (hashtags, another thing we didn’t know about eight years ago) is finding out a lot that is good too.
And, to be honest, this coverage is so much more exciting this go-round. Getting to share info quickly is fun. And we’re enjoying it.
And it proves something to the entire world. The Catholic Church is relevant. So relevant in fact that this is actually happening now:
— Lulu Chiang (@LuluTV) March 13, 2013
Dennis Rodman is trying to prove he is relevant by being present in Rome. And campaigning for one of two African cardinals to become Pope.
But more than relevant, the media is being forced to acknowledge that the Church is important. That it is, in fact, a very powerful force to be reckoned with.
This conclave in the digital age is not showing a denomination behind the times. No, it is, in fact showing that the Church is made of passionate people who love her dearly and proudly defend her. And it is causing some skeptics to take pause. And perhaps search their own hearts.