Pope urges priests to embrace social media, start blogging

Mood: Holy.

His Popiness, Pope Benedict XVI, has urged Catholic priests to go forth and blog in an effort to connect with more people and ultimately get more asses in pews. The 265th Pope is no stranger to the internet, as the Vatican launched a YouTube channel last year to get the word of God out to the digitally connected masses.

Citing the “broad new vistas for dialogue, evangelization and catechesis” presented by social media, Big Pope-a quoted the scripture in his plea for priests to get out and evangelize:

Such is the lofty dignity and beauty of the mission of the priest, which responds in a special way to the challenge raised by the Apostle Paul: “The Scripture says, ‘No one who believes in him will be put to shame … everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ But how can they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach? And how can people preach unless they are sent? (Rom 10:11, 13-15).

His Holiness gently reminded priests who might be neglecting the opportunities presented to reach potential churchgoers that Jesus is totally watching them and their reticence makes him kind of sad:

Responding adequately to this challenge amid today’s cultural shifts, to which young people are especially sensitive, necessarily involves using new communications technologies. The world of digital communication, with its almost limitless expressive capacity, makes us appreciate all the more Saint Paul’s exclamation: “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel” (1 Cor 9:16) The increased availability of the new technologies demands greater responsibility on the part of those called to proclaim the Word, but it also requires them to become become more focused, efficient and compelling in their efforts. Priests stand at the threshold of a new era: as new technologies create deeper forms of relationship across greater distances, they are called to respond pastorally by putting the media ever more effectively at the service of the Word.

Ooh, Word? Capitalized? Bill Gates might like a word with you about that, Father.

And, says the Pope, no half assing. In what actually may have been the first time I’ve felt like adding an “Amen” in my entire Catholic life, Pope Benedict says that it’s not enough to fill the web with content, it must be meaningful and relevant and worth reading.

The spread of multimedia communications and its rich “menu of options” might make us think it sufficient simply to be present on the Web, or to see it only as a space to be filled. Yet priests can rightly be expected to be present in the world of digital communications as faithful witnesses to the Gospel, exercising their proper role as leaders of communities which increasingly express themselves with the different “voices” provided by the digital marketplace. 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.

In all honesty, it’s definitely a step in the right direction for the Vatican to get priests out and preaching the word of God via blogs, Facebook and Twitter. Maybe since the Catholic Church, which is literally older than Jesus, has embraced the changing market and new challenges presented therein, the music and book publishing industries will follow suit.