Pope 2.0: Vatican launches Facebook application

May 22, 2009
Pope Benedict XVI greets the faithful wearing his Saturn Hat, named after the ringed planet Saturn, during the weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday May 20, 2009. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

(AP) -- Pope Benedict XVI has entered the world of social networking sites and smartphones with a Vatican portal that includes Facebook and iPhone applications.

The Pope2You Web site was launched Thursday and allows Facebook users to send virtual postcards with photos of Benedict and excerpts from his messages. An application for and iPod Touch gives surfers video and audio news on the pope's travels and speeches, as well as on Catholic events worldwide.

The new portal is the latest update in the Vatican's efforts to broaden the pope's audience and reach out to young people. Earlier this year, Benedict got his own YouTube channel, which is now also linked to the portal.

While wary of the potential pitfalls of new media, the 82-year-old Benedict has also encouraged young Catholics to use the Internet to spread the church's message.

On Wednesday he told pilgrims gathered for his weekly audience that young people should use the Internet to build a better world through bonds of friendship and solidarity, adding that the digital world can help make the Gospel known.

For the Rev. Paolo Padrini, a technologically savvy Italian priest who led the Pope2You project, giving Benedict a presence on the world's largest online social network was in keeping with the church's centuries-old communications strategy.

"The walls of our churches are painted by the greatest artists of all time," Padrini said. "This means that the church has always invested in the culture of each period, using the best instruments available to communicate with people."

Padrini, 36, works in the small of village of Stazzano in northern Italy and routinely chats online with his 2,500 parishioners. He was also behind another Vatican foray on the Web: iBreviary, an application that brought the book of daily prayers used by priests onto iPhones.

Padrini said the new project aimed to put the focus on the church by creating a Facebook application rather than a personal profile for Benedict like those made for stars and world leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama.

"The pope is not a Hollywood star who signs autographs," Padrini told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Friday. "We don't follow a concept of leadership, the pope has always made it clear that he is a servant of the church."

Some top clergymen do have profiles on , including Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, the archbishop of Naples.

The Pope2You portal is run by the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Social Communications and is available in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish. It was launched ahead of the church's World Communications Day on Sunday.

Padrini didn't know if the pope had been informed of the Web site, but said the initiative was consistent with the message the pope had prepared for World Communications Day.

Addressing the "digital generation," Benedict praises new media for helping people keep in touch and creating new friendships and communities worldwide.

But he also warns that social networking can become "obsessive," isolating individuals from real-life interaction.

"It would be sad if our desire to sustain and develop online friendships were to be at the cost of our availability to engage with our families, our neighbors and those we meet in the daily reality of our places of work, education and recreation," Benedict says in the message.

--

On the Net:

http://pope2you.net

http://www.vatican.va

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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User comments : 7

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mvg
3.7 / 5 (3) May 22, 2009
"reach out to young people"

Former Nazi youth member seeks altar boys
mvg
5 / 5 (1) May 22, 2009
After inquisitions, several crusades (without which there would be NO terorist problems in the present day), concordats with Hitler, clergy sex scandals(and cover ups), as well as siding with BOTH sides of nearly every war in the last 1000 years---

ISN'T IT FINALLY TIME THESE GUYS GET THE DISRESPECT THEY SO JUSTLY DESERVE?
vika_Tae
1 / 5 (1) May 22, 2009
Much as I disagree with the christian faith, and with actions they have taken in the past, its a bit like punishing a child for their parent's actions, to blame this particular generation for the events of the past. Yes, there is still a great deal wrong with Christianity in all its forms and splinter factions, but at least this pope is trying. He doesn't always try with common sense, but at least its a start.
mvg
5 / 5 (1) May 22, 2009
Thats like saying the Nazis were bad but the Neo-nazis are OK.

Their past crimes were done in the "name of God" and they STILL claim to be the "Vicars of Christ"--

MAYBE WE SHOULD HOLD THEM TO A HIGHER STANDARD
Lazlor
5 / 5 (2) May 22, 2009
Their past actions were done under the command of their god as they say and since they still follow this entity the Vatican is still at fault for every terrible thing they did. To not stand by their god's past requests kinda should make anyone wonder why they stand by the current ones.
mvg
5 / 5 (2) May 22, 2009
If Jesus came to visit the Vatican he would spit on all of them.
ealex
1 / 5 (1) May 23, 2009
....but seriously, wtf is up with the hat.