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Posted at 12:26 PM ET, 01/24/2011

The Pope and social media: A tentative affair

By Melissa Bell
moscow airport
Pope Benedict XVI (Tiziana Fabi)

On the feast day of the patron saint of journalists, Saint Francis de Sales, the pope issued a message titled "Truth, Proclamation and Authenticity of Life in the Digital Age." He gives his blessing to social networking, while cautioning people about the dangers of choosing virtual friendships over real-life connections.

It is a message familiar to Catholics. While Pope Benedict XVI has slowly been embracing technology, he constantly warns about the danger it can wreak on interpersonal relationships. He has urged priests to use social media to spread the gospel. However, a year ago the Vatican came out strongly against the movie "Avatar." The Vatican's newspaper said it had "so much stupefying, enchanting technology, but few genuine emotions."

The Monday address mirrored those sentiments:

This dynamic has contributed to a new appreciation of communication itself, which is seen first of all as dialogue, exchange, solidarity and the creation of positive relations. On the other hand, this is contrasted with the limits typical of digital communication: the one-sidedness of the interaction, the tendency to communicate only some parts of one's interior world, the risk of constructing a false image of oneself, which can become a form of self-indulgence.

He goes on to advise people to think carefully about who they communicate with online and to guard against making those virtual relationships supplant "direct human contact with people at every level of our lives."

He also warns that people should not seek popularity online but focus on Christian communication.

Though the pope has given his blessing to social media, he still hasn't made an appearance on Twitter.

By Melissa Bell  | January 24, 2011; 12:26 PM ET
Categories:  The Daily Catch  
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Comments

I find it a positive thing that the Catholic Church in general seem to always be in-the-know. Has anybody noticed that? Whether its bio-ethics, social networking,business ethics or social justice, you can bet you they will weigh in and usually with good counsel. (If its truly a bona fide magesterail doc.and not some random theologian). Pope Ben gives wise advice about not seeking popularity through phoney facades but also encouarges using the gift of technology responsibly and to spread the gospel.

Posted by: Vgisondi | January 25, 2011 1:10 PM | Report abuse

I find it a positive thing that the Catholic Church in general seem to always be in-the-know. Has anybody noticed that? Whether its bio-ethics, social networking,business ethics or social justice, you can bet you they will weigh in and usually with good counsel. (If its truly a bona fide magesterail doc.and not some random theologian). Pope Ben gives wise advice about not seeking popularity through phoney facades but also encouarges using the gift of technology responsibly and to spread the gospel.

Posted by: Vgisondi | January 25, 2011 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Hi Melissa,

I think you might have accidentally wedded two different topics. The comments about Avatar by the Vatican's newspaper are not necessarily the pope's opinion. Even if they were, there is no connection between a review of that movie and the pros and cons of social media. And the pope might not be on Twitter, but this Facebook app (http://apps.facebook.com/popetoyou/)was available a while ago.

Posted by: stephenmajewski | January 26, 2011 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Hi Melissa,

I think you might have accidentally wedded two different topics. The comments about Avatar by the Vatican's newspaper are not necessarily the pope's opinion. Even if they were, there is no connection between a review of that movie and the pros and cons of social media. And the pope might not be on Twitter, but this Facebook app (http://apps.facebook.com/popetoyou/)was available a while ago.

Posted by: stephenmajewski | January 26, 2011 12:48 PM | Report abuse

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