New-media missionaries expected to spread Gospel on blogs and Facebook
VATICAN CITY–Pope Benedict XVI has a new commandment for priests struggling to get their message across: Go forth and blog.
The Pope, whose own presence on the Web has grown in recent years, urged priests on Saturday to use all multimedia tools at their disposal to preach the Gospel and engage in dialogue with people of other religions and cultures.
And just using email or surfing the web is not enough: priests should use cutting-edge technologies to express themselves and lead their communities, Benedict said in a message released by the Vatican.
The message, prepared for the Vatican’s World Day of Communications on Sunday, suggests using images, videos, animated features, blogs and websites.
Benedict said young priests should become familiar with new media while still in seminary, though he stressed that the use of new technologies must reflect theological and spiritual principles.
“Priests present in the world of digital communications should be less notable for their media savvy than for their priestly heart, their closeness to Christ,” he said.
The 82-year-old Pope has often been wary of new media, warning about what he has called the tendency of entertainment media, in particular, to trivialize sex and promote violence, while lamenting the endless stream of news can make people insensitive to tragedies.
But Benedict has also praised new ways of communicating as a “gift to humanity” when used to foster friendship and understanding.
The Vatican has tried hard to keep up to speed with the rapidly changing field.
Last year it opened a YouTube channel as well as a portal dedicated to Benedict. The Pope2You site gives news on the pontiff’s trips and speeches and features a Facebook application that allows users to send postcards with photos of Benedict and excerpts from his messages to their friends.
One of Benedict’s advisers, Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, the archbishop of Naples, has his own Facebook profile as does Cardinal Roger Mahony, archbishop of Los Angeles.
In Saturday’s message – titled “The priest and pastoral ministry in a digital world: New media at the service of the Word” – Benedict urged special care in contacts with other cultures and beliefs.
A presence on the Web, “precisely because it brings us into contact with the followers of other religions, non-believers and people of every culture, requires sensitivity, he said.
Torstar Syndication Services
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