Pope asks priests to become more Web savvy

The Vatican directs the ministry to spread the word using the latest technology and multimedia, including Web sites and blogs, in an attempt to reach younger people.

The pope is asking priests to become more media savvy by preaching to the faithful from the Internet as well as the pulpit.

Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI The Vatican

In his message for the Catholic Church's 2010 World Day for Social Communications, Pope Benedict XVI called on the ministry to use the latest technologies, such as Web sites and blogs, to preach the gospel and encourage a dialogue with their practitioners.

Scheduled for May 16, the theme of the World Day will be "The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in a Digital World: New Media at the Service of the Word." In his message released Sunday, Pope Benedict told people that church communities have traditionally relied on modern media to open the lines of communication. And as the culture changes, the church needs to use the latest technologies, especially if it wants to reach younger people.

"Priests are thus challenged to proclaim the gospel by employing the latest generation of audiovisual resources (images, videos, animated features, blogs, Web sites) which, alongside traditional means, can open up broad new vistas for dialogue, evangelization, and catechesis," said Pope Benedict in his message.

The pope acknowledged that new technologies call on priests to become more savvy in their use, yet these technologies can foster deeper types of relationships even across vast distances. The pontiff also urged the ministry to not forget its primary obligation and message.

"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," said Pope Benedict. "This will not only enliven their pastoral outreach, but also will give a 'soul' to the fabric of communications that makes up the Web."

The Vatican has already made its own forays into cyberspace. In addition to its main Web site, the Vatican last year launched the Pope to You site, in which practitioners can access a papal Facebook application, see the Vatican on YouTube, and even download the church's iPhone app.

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