Although he certainly has more “followers” than Ashton Kutcher or Britney Spears, Pope Benedict XVI does not yet have his own Twitter account. What he does have though is a collection of other social media tools (including a Facebook application, iPhone app and YouTube channel) that are available as a part of the Pope2You project. Administered by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the project displays the church’s recent commitment to using digital communications as a way to spread the Word.
Understanding that in order to connect with his younger and more digitally connected Catholic flock, he must engage with them where they hang out, socially speaking. Pretty progressive and forward-thinking move coming from an organization so steeped in tradition. The Pope and his advisers know that tweeting, blogging and commenting have the potential to reach audiences in more engaging and direct ways than a traditional sermon from the pulpit. In the most recent Message From His Holiness, the Pope himself addresses the development of new communication technologies and encourages priests to make use of these mediums by embracing the opportunities they create:
“To priests in particular the new media offer ever new and far-reaching pastoral possibilities, encouraging them to embody the universality of the Church’s mission, to build a vast and real fellowship, and to testify in today’s world.”
Coinciding with the Pope’s declaration that 2010 will be the “Year for Priests,” the theme of this year’s World Communications Day (to be held May 16) is “The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in a Digital World: New Media at the Service of the Word.” The event will bring attention to the unique possibilities offered by modern communications and give priests the information and tools needed to minister in a digital world. Solidifying the Church’s acceptance of Social Media as a viable communications option, one only needs to look to its early adopters that include Friar Todd Peterson, Bishop Anthony Taylor and Cardinal Justin Rigali.