Pope Benedict XVI issued a surprising proclamation this week urging priests to use social media to spread the Gospel. In anticipation of World Communications Day, the pope, who has confessed to being Web-illiterate in the past, told priests to "give a soul" to the Internet using the latest "audiovisual resources," including blogs, Facebook, and yes—Twitter. What can priests accomplish by boiling down God's word to 140 characters or less? (Watch a report about the Pope's social media backing)
The Vatican's making lemons into lemonade: This is exciting, says Don Clemmer at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops media blog. The pope is telling priests to start blogging to turn the Internet, which is now a swamp of "toxic exchanges" and "namecalling," into a tool to "lovingly bridge division between people." That's "almost radical," but it makes sense—priests need to be where people are, and these days they're online.
"A Papal Media Mandate"
The church's intentions are questionable: "Why does this not smell kosher?" asks Vlad Nedelcu at TimesLive. If Pope Benedict XVI really wanted to embrace "the new information age," he'd make the Vatican's Secret Archives fully searchable online. The fact is "the pope needs more followers," and the Web is a good place to look for them.
"Pope Tells Priests to Go Forth and Blog: Should They be Monitored?"
Priests, like all bloggers, will have to fight to be heard: "When an object as ostensibly immovable as the Catholic Church starts heading online," says Amar Toor at Switched, "it's a sure sign that the world is changing." The Vatican has already introduced a YouTube page and Facebook and iPhone apps in the past year. But blogging priests should know it's a "blog-eat-blog world" out there, and they'll have to compete with all the other "voices screaming for attention."
"Pope Tells the Church to Give God a Blog"