Below is an excerpt of a report on CNS about a recent discussion session that was held between a group of US bishops and Catholic bloggers on how best to use social media to spread the Gospel.  The discussion centred on a new study, “Catholic New Media Use in the United States, 2012,” which was conducted by Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate

“A group of U.S. bishops and Catholic bloggers discussed — and tweeted about — how to use social media to spread the Gospel message during a Nov. 11 session prior to the start of the U.S. bishops’ annual general assembly in Baltimore.

In the nearly three-hour session, the group of two dozen bishops and even more bloggers talked about the challenges in keeping up with the all-pervasive social media but also acknowledged the absolute necessity of doing so in order to reach people and connect them more deeply with their faith — or put simply: to evangelize.

In question-and-answer sessions, a panel discussion and in small groups, the bloggers repeatedly urged the bishops to use social media tools at their disposal such as blogs and Twitter or Facebook accounts as a means to communicate a living faith in the modern world.

If the bishops had any doubt about the number of people, Catholics in particular, who use social media, a new study by Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, confirmed that there is indeed a big audience out there, and that audience wants material that is relevant and also entertaining.

Mark Gray, director of Catholic polls and a research associate at CARA, gave the bishops and bloggers highlights of the study, “Catholic New Media Use in the United States, 2012″ commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Department of Communications.

The survey, of 1,047 Catholics from Sept. 10-18, showed that 62 percent of adult U.S. Catholics, representing an estimated 36.2 million people, have a profile on Facebook; 58 percent of Catholics age 30 and under share content such as pictures, articles and comments at least once a week on social media; and nearly a third of all surveyed said they would like their pastors and bishops to blog.

An immediate takeaway from the survey was that the sheer number of Catholics online cannot be ignored.”

By Carol Zimmerman

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