Westmont Magazine Professor Speaks at the Vatican, Meets Pope

(Photo above courtesy Vatican Media)

A Westmont professor’s work about media, digital technology and the church led to an invitation to speak at the Vatican and meet with Pope Francis on November 11, 2022. Sociologist Felicia Wu Song lectured about “The Good News in a Digital Age: A Call to the Contemplative” at a plenary assembly of the Vatican's Dicastery for Communication. Later, she joined members of the dicastery to hear Pope Francis speak about the importance of inclusive and truthful communication to a small group in the Apostolic Palace's Clementine Hall. Following the talk, she greeted the Pope with a handshake and personal introduction.

Restless Devices Book Cover by Felicia Song

“My talk at the plenary assembly was well received and generated many stimulating conversations among lay media professionals, archbishops, bishops and sisters about what types of digital engagements the Catholic Church ought to have to reach its parishioners around the world, young and old,” Song says.

As a participant, she toured the Vatican Gardens and Vatican News, the news portal of the Holy See, including Vatican Radio, the daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano and Vatican Media, which has large followings on several social media platforms. “I even got to see the master control room where all the visual media gets green-lit before broadcast,” she says. “It was all pretty incredible, similar to getting a tour of the New York Times or CNN offices and meeting people who transmit content globally in 30-40 different languages. It was just amazing.”

The Dicastery of Communications, which oversees all the Catholic Church's communications, and its global members only gather together every few years. Song, author of the book “Restless Devices: Recovering Personhood, Presence, and Place in the Digital Age,” received an invitation to speak at the gathering after a member of the dicastery heard her lecture at the University of Notre Dame in the summer.

Song, who earned a doctorate in sociology from the University of Virginia, graduated from Yale and earned a master’s degree in communication studies from Northwestern. She taught at Louisiana State University for seven years before joining the Westmont faculty in 2013.