Apparently the Pope has decided that it is time for the Holy See to venture into cyberspace. Here is how Associated Press Writer Ariel David reported the decision this morning:
Pope Benedict XVI has a new commandment for priests struggling to get their message across: Go forth and blog.
The pope, whose own presence on the Web has heavily grown in recent years, urged priests on Saturday to use all multimedia tools at their disposal to preach the Gospel and engage in dialogue with people of other religions and cultures.
And just using e-mail or surfing the Web is often not enough: Priests should use cutting-edge technologies to express themselves and lead their communities, Benedict said in a message released by the Vatican.
"The spread of multimedia communications and its rich 'menu of options' might make us think it sufficient simply to be present on the Web," but priests are "challenged to proclaim the Gospel by employing the latest generation of audiovisual resources," he said.
The message, prepared for the World Day of Communications, suggests such possibilities as images, videos, animated features, blogs, and Web sites.
Benedict said young priests should become familiar with new media while still in seminary, though he stressed that the use of new technologies must reflect theological and spiritual principles.
"Priests present in the world of digital communications should be less notable for their media savvy than for their priestly heart, their closeness to Christ," he said.
From my own atheist point of view, I was most interested in the extent to which this might indicate a move by the Catholic Church from proclamation to communication. If priests take their blogging seriously, will they pay attention to the comments they receive; or will the blog just be a high-technology pulpit for spreading the Word without paying any attention to whether or not the would-be recipients have anything to say by way of reply? The priestly heart may have to face far more challenges in the blogosphere than it ever encountered in the cathedral!
By the way, Your Holiness, I happen to know this Nigerian diplomat who has come into a lot of money …