Brazil's Roman Catholic bishops are at loggerheads with the Pope over plans to use the internet to reach out to a younger generation.I cannot believe that any group of bishops could be taking seriously the idea of transubstantiation over the internet, and I suspect that Msgr Lara's comment is probably taken out of context. I expect he was just talking about the internet in general and its use in evangelization and/or the broadcasting of services.
As Benedict XVI addressed 40,000 youths in Sao Paolo yesterday on the first day of his tour of Brazil, the country's Catholic leaders said that the Church had to embrace new technology to win back worshippers from the burgeoning evangelical movement.
They want remote communities and younger worshippers to be able celebrate Mass live over the internet. Celebrants would take communion by placing unleavened bread in front of their computer monitors to be consecrated.
The idea will be discussed on Sunday at the first Episcopal Conference of South American bishops to be held for a decade.
Monsignor Dimas Lara, the general secretary of the Brazilian Bishops' Conference, said: "It is pointless to talk about the evangelisation of the youth without discussing the internet.
"It may be a new thing for all of us, but it is necessary."
The move could counter the severe shortage of clergy in some areas. Evangelists are winning over remote and poorer communities because they have 17 times as many pastors per worshipper as there are Catholic priests. However, the Pope has already dismissed the idea. In Sacrementum Caritatis, a document on the Eucharist which he issued in February, Benedict insisted that communion over the internet, or any other media, had "no spiritual value".How nice! An actual quotation from Sacramentum Caritatis. Let's go to the English version to find the words "no spiritual value."
Hmmmm... a text search shows that the supposed quotation from Sacramentum Caritatis doesn't appear in the document. What the Pope actually says is:
Participation through the communications mediaSo what else does the Telegraph has to tell us?
57. Thanks to the remarkable development of the communications media, the word "participation" has taken on a broader meaning in recent decades. We all gladly acknowledge that the media have also opened up new possibilities for the celebration of the Eucharist. This requires a specific preparation and a keen sense of responsibility on the part of pastoral workers in the sector. When Mass is broadcast on television, it inevitably tends to set an example. Particular care should therefore be taken to ensure that, in addition to taking place in suitable and well-appointed locations, the celebration respects the liturgical norms in force.
Finally, with regard to the value of taking part in Mass via the communications media, those who hear or view these broadcasts should be aware that, under normal circumstances, they do not fulfil the obligation of attending Mass. Visual images can represent reality, but they do not actually reproduce it. While it is most praiseworthy that the elderly and the sick participate in Sunday Mass through radio and television, the same cannot be said of those who think that such broadcasts dispense them from going to church and sharing in the eucharistic assembly in the living Church.
The Vatican said yesterday that internet Mass was "no substitute" for going to church, but seemed prepared to turn a blind eye to the practice.Again, the Telegraph seems to be totally missing the point - it doesn't sound like the "Vatican" is turning a blind eye to anything. I seriously doubt that Fr Lombardi's idea of "internet mass" has anything even remotely to do with what Malcolm Moore seems to think it is.
"I am sure internet Mass already exists," said Father Federico Lombardi, the papal spokesman. "I believe it is a way of involving more people, but it is obviously important to keep going to church and to personally participate. This is part of church life and the internet cannot replace it."