Book by the parish priest of Tavira helps to find the Church on the «digital road»

The Catholic Church does not want to miss the “ride” on the Digital Road. Miguel Neto, parish priest of Tavira and responsible for communication […]

Miguel Neto

The Catholic Church does not want to miss the "ride" in the Digital Road. Miguel Neto, parish priest of Tavira and responsible for communication for the Diocese of the Algarve, presented, last Friday, at the Ermida de S. Sebastião, in Tavira, the book “Igreja e Encontro na Estrada Digital”, a work that looks at the phenomenon of the Internet and social networks and analyzes its impact on the life of the Church, the faithful and society.

The Tavirense chapel was full for the presentation of the book, which was attended by Father Américo Aguiar, director of the National Secretariat for Social Communications.

D. Manuel Quintas, Bishop of Algarve, Jorge Botelho, mayor of Tavira, and Alexandra Gonçalves, Regional Director of Culture, also wanted to know the result of Miguel Neto's doctoral thesis, now published in a book.

Hermitage of São Sebastião

Ao Sul Informação, the parish priest of Tavira explained that the idea of ​​studying the subject came up because «this was a subject I was working on in the Diocese and that interested me. My work addressed the use of new technologies and what is their usefulness for the Catholic Church, what impact they have on people's lives».

For Miguel Neto, it is necessary for the Church to be aware of changes in society: “if the way of communicating has changed, our way of relating as a Church also changes. We are not isolated from society, we are inside».

The study of the Catalan communication theorist Manuel Castells was the starting point. In his work, Castells “talks about the evolution of the network society” addressing themes such as Culture, or Politics, “but he lacked the component related to faith, how people practice their faith in the network society. The objective of the work was to make this extension», explains Miguel Neto.

According to the parish priest, «the fact of being the social media manager of the Diocese of Algarve inspired some of the conclusions. This work made me know a little about the ins and outs of social networks and became interested in this area. It helped to understand how we can convey the message to reach a certain audience in an easier way, to understand what should be conveyed, or what people's interests are».

The Catholic Church has always used the means that have emerged to communicate with the faithful. First the press, then radio and television. Now the Internet and social networks.

However, according to Miguel Neto, currently «whether globally or at the level of the Diocese of the Algarve, we are in a transitional phase. We are usually a step down on the question of the history of modernization. We still look at the digital medium as an instrument to convey a message».

But for Miguel Neto, social networks are more than a simple medium. «There is a new attitude, it is important to understand how we can move in this reality. It is different that we are relating to a millenial, which was born after the year 2000, which communicates via Whatsapp, Twitter and Snapchat, or communicate with a person aged 40 or 50, who likes the Church's messages on Facebook».

The parish priest assumes that «what is missing is to “catch” the younger generations, who massively use other social networks and use them instantly and overwhelmingly. The Christian message has not yet managed to enter this sphere».

Miguel Neto believes that this will happen because «we are moving from the instrument to the environment phase», but assumes: «it will take years», he concludes.

The book costs 20 euros and is on sale in Faro, at Loja da Diocese, and in Tavira, at the ArtGilão Store, in the Church of Santa Maria. It can also be sent by mail, by request to the email [email protected].