An image of Pope Benedict XVI appears on a computer monitor during an eighth-grade religion class at St. John Baptist De LaSalle Regional School in Farmingdale, N.Y., in this April 4, 2008, file photo. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz, Long Island Catholic).

VATICAN CITY — With ADSL-like speed, the Vatican is moving into a whole new realm: Google and its subsidiary, YouTube

The Vatican press office told reporters over the weekend that the Vatican Television Center and Vatican Radio will be collaborating with the Internet search engine — Google — and its video sharing website.

The Vatican will be supplying papal texts and speeches as well as video footage of the pope which will be posted directly onto its own channel on YouTube.

The new initiative comes just one month after Pope Benedict urged the Vatican media to unite their efforts to provide packages of word, sound and images in proclaiming the Gospel to modern Internet users.

In an audience with Vatican television staff Dec. 18, the pope said that, because the Catholic Church cannot allow its message to be outside “the areas in which countless young people surf seeking answers and a meaning for their life, you must seek ways to spread voices and images of hope in new forms.”

Talk about picking up the ball and running with it!

In fact, it was just a day or so later that some people noticed the Vatican Web site had added Google search capability so that its enormous archive of written texts, addresses, and papal speeches could be found through a special Google interface.  

The head of the Vatican’s radio and television center, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi,  a managing director for Google, Henrique de Castro, and the head of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Archbishop Claudio Celli, will unveil further details about the new Google/YouTube project during a press conference Friday when the Vatican releases Pope Benedict’s message for the 43rd World Day of Social Communications. 

This year’s theme is “New Technologies, New Relationships. Promoting a Culture of Respect, Dialogue and Friendship.”

Ever since it set up its own Web site in 1997, the Vatican has been stepping up efforts to use new technologies so as to be at the service of not just the world’s Catholics, but all people.


Pope John Paul II pressed the "send" button on his computer at the Vatican Nov. 22, 2001 and distributed "Ecclesia in Oceania" via e-mail message. (CNS photo from Reuters).

Remember when Pope John Paul II first clicked a mouse in 2001 to send his final document on the Oceania synod, “Ecclesia in Oceania,” via e-mail message?  

From there we started getting emails and text messages from the Vatican and from Pope Benedict for World Youth Day in Australia.

The Pontifical Council for Culture was the first to put a Vatican press conference on YouTube last year.

Now that Jesus is on Facebook, it probably won’t be too long until the Vatican starts using these different outlets for outreach. The Jesuit journal, La Civilta Cattolica just gave this social networking site a cautious thumbs up.

Even the virtual, online world of Second Life, the journal said a while back, could be fertile ground for prayer and evangelization.

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