Pope Benedict XVI has been the Holy See for almost five years, and during that time, he (and the Catholic church along with him) has become more and more involved in social media. Last year, he launched a YouTube channel, social media outreach initiative, and apps for Facebook and the iPhone. And now he’s urging parish priests to follow his lead into the Internet.
And just to show how with-it he really is, this message is from . . . the future. (No, really—it’s dated 16 May 2010.) For the 44th World Communications Day, the Supreme Pontiff noted the advancements in communications thanks to the Internet, and said (will say?):
Priests are thus challenged to proclaim the Gospel by employing the latest generation of audiovisual resources (images, videos, animated features, blogs, websites) which, alongside traditional means, can open up broad new vistas for dialogue, evangelization and catechesis.
(Vocab lesson: evangelization: preaching the gospel; catechesis: teaching the doctrine.)
Naturally, of course, the 82-year-old pope must have a staff dedicated to maintaining these sites with videos and messages from the Bishop of Rome—and yeah, it was probably their idea. But hey, the Sovereign of the Vatican not only signed off but has continued to participate with his image and messages, and he’s the one urging local priests to become similarly involved.
Many priests and deacons are already active in the Catholic blogosphere, but the official impetus is new. In the end, reaching parishioners where they already congregate (well, outside of church ) is always a good idea. And it seems pretty forward-thinking for a church that old and that large.
What do you think? Will the Pope’s support of priestly blogging mark a change in the way local officials relate to their communities?