On Friday this past week, I was pleased to read the first encyclical from Pope Francis, Lumen Fidei, that was started by Pope Benedict XVI, emeritus. My friend and fellow blogger, Brandon Vogt, had taken the text (verbatim) from the encyclical and converted it into many formats (pdf, Nook, Kindle, and iPad) to be easily shared on various devices on his blog. Brandon provided this service for free and with the noble intent of spreading the good news from the Holy Father in the spirit of the New Evangelization. I was surprised to read the following message on Brandon’s blog the following day:
“In the last couple hours, I’ve received a litany of emails from both the USCCB and the Vatican accusing me of “[violating] both civil and moral law” and “stealing from the pope” (actual words used) by making the encyclical available in other formats. They’ve ordered me to remove the documents with full knowledge that this would prevent hundreds of people from reading it who otherwise wouldn’t read the encyclical online or in print. In my view, this is tragic and unjust. It’s valuing profit over catechises, and I have to believe Pope Francis (and Pope Benedict) would be extremely perturbed. Their goal and the goal of the Church is to evangelize—to spread the message of Jesus Christ, especially through papal encyclicals—not to make a dime off each copy printed. I’m heading out the door for a three-day spiritual without access to the Internet, so I’ll save my fuller reaction for another time. But per their request, I’ve removed the documents. Feel free to read the encyclical online or pre-order the Ignatius hardcover version.”
The Church should make the Bible, Catechism, and church documents available to as many people as possible. Vatican II stressed the need for the “Call To Holiness” is for everyone, and the church should embrace the lay faithful and support their efforts in evangelization. The following two quotes from Vatican II help promote the need for good access to Sacred Scripture and the spiritual goods of the Church.
22. “Easy access to Sacred Scripture should be provided for all the Christian faithful.”
Vatican II: Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation — Dei Verbum.
37. “The laity have the right, as do all Christians, to receive in abundance from their spiritual shepherds the spiritual goods of the Church, especially the assistance of the word of God and of the sacraments“.
Vatican II: Dogmatic Constitution on The Church — Lumen Gentium.
At the beginning of the Year of Faith, a group formed to provide the Catechism in an Open-Source programming format for all to use on websites. The “Read the Catechism in a Year” during the Year of Faith was launched. It was also shut down by the USCCB due to copywrite, and they now are providing the YouCat as a daily e-mail instead of the Catechism. The New American Bible is also closely guarded in copywrite by the USCCB, and currently is not allowed to be freely distributed electronically. It may be time for the Catholic Church to look again at its policies at a national and international level, and discern what is best in this Internet age to help for growth and strength in our Catholic Faith. I believe what Brandon Vogt was providing is just what is called for in Vatican II and the New Evagelization, and the Church should be supportive in his efforts.
An Opportunity for The Catholic Chruch — Approving Authenticity & Helping with the Digital Divide
Back in 2012, I wrote an e-mail to Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Bishop Christopher Coyne with a proposal to help with making the Bible and Catechism more accessible with the news that the Vatican would be offering their own domains soon.
Dear Eminence Cardinal Timothy Dolan,I have been a long-time admirer of your leadership in the USCCB, and a fan of your show on XM Satellite Radio.I am writing to you with an idea that should help with our Catholic Faith and identity, as well as benefiting the USCCB:1) I recently read an article from the National Catholic Reporter about Pope Benedict’s request to bishops to oversee and authenticate Catholic Charity organizations.2) The Catholic Church in 2013 is going to get some of its own domains on the internet (i.e.: .catholic & .ihs) through ICANN, which will help authenticate real Catholic websites.3) I would like to propose that the USCCB offer a system for Catholic charities and organizations to be able to apply for authenticity and pay an annual fee to keep the certification and domain. I would also like to propose this as a way to bring in income to the USCCB, and allow you to make the NAB and Catechism FREE. I think this has the potential to bring in the income to keep the USCCB funded, and fulfill the wishes of Vatican II to make the Bible and Catechism as accessible as possible.We have started a new ministry to help Catholic webmasters build better websites, and staying true to Catholic teachings and doctrine. We applied to the Diocese of Richmond to be recognized as a Catholic Charity by Bishop DiLorenzo, but were denied largely because there is no system in place. I would like to urge you and the other bishops to help guide Catholic charities and ministries in establishing an authenticity certification through USCCB.God Bless,John ClemDirector & Media Minister
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