VATICAN CITY — In his World Communications Day message issued today, Pope Benedict extolled the “wonders” of the digital age and said they had opened unprecedented opportunities to spread the Gospel.
The pope invited Christians to join social media, saying this new model of information sharing was something the church could and should work with. But he also said there was a “Christian” way of being online: honest, responsible and respectful of others.
He noted some risks posed by the digital revolution: superficiality, replacing real-life contact with virtual interaction and constructing an artificial public profile that doesn’t correspond to the authentic person.
At a press conference today, Vatican officials candidly acknowledged that the 83-year-old pope doesn’t surf the Internet much. He still writes with a pen and prefers to let aides navigate online, said Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman.
At the same time, Father Lombardi said, the pope has approved and shown great interest in the Vatican’s Internet projects.
The next big thing on the Vatican’s digital horizon is the unveiling of an Internet portal for news and features from various Vatican media. Archbishop Claudio Celli, head of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, said he hopes an initial version of the site — in Italian and English — will be up and running by Easter.