Magisterium. The word, sometimes in contention these
days, refers to the teaching office of the Church. As Internet
publishing grows, many are turning to the Web to find out
what the Church teaches. How is a surfer to judge what’s authentic?
The office of teaching is entrusted to bishops. Yet bishops
don’t act alone. Often they turn to theologians for help in
conveying truth as times change. Teachers, writers, publishers
and others, too, help teach the faith widely, increasingly
on the Web.
Today’s searcher confronts a confusing array of options,
with some sites claiming to be more authentically Catholic
than others. Internet aside, it’s a problem as old as the
to the Source
Here’s a cautious—and not the only—approach for finding trustworthy
Catholic content. A good starting point is your parish site.
Next would be the Web site of your diocese. There is an up-to-date
list of diocesan sites (almost all have one) at the site of
the newly renamed U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, usccb.org.
From your diocesan Web site you may find links to sites deemed
reliable by your bishop’s staff. Don’t be surprised if the
list is short; most dioceses are just beginning to develop
linking policies. The best diocesan sites provide outlets
for the bishop to teach widely. A good example is Chicago
Cardinal Francis George’s Dwell in My Love: A Pastoral
Letter on Racism at archdiocese-chgo.org.
The U.S. bishops’ conference site, usccb.org,
has a searchable version of the Catechism and the New
American Bible. You can also find updates on the work
of the bishops in areas of liturgy, social policy and more.
The most popular spot on the site is the daily readings from
the U.S. Lectionary.
The Canadian Catholic Conference has a fine site at cccb.ca,
with links to other conferences.
At Vatican.va, site of
the Holy See, you can search through all of the documents
of Vatican II, most of the writings of recent popes, news
from Vatican Information Service and Vatican Radio. There’s
also archival material from the Vatican collection, as well
as statements on various issues from the Roman curia.