Monday, January 28, 2013

Pope Benedict XVI urges followers to reach out on Twitter, Facebook, other social media sites

It's not new: Despite the fact that the Catholic Church has warned of the dangers of becoming too attached to social networking sites such as Facebook, it has also embraced such sites. On the 47th World Communications Day on Jan. 24, Pope Benedict XIV, urged his followers to use social-networking sites such as Facebook, Tumblr, and Pinterest to spread their faith to nonbelievers.

Despite its frequent cautionary notes about social media, the Catholic Church has recognized the importance of such services in the lives of young people. This is the group that the pontiff was addressing, as in his speech, “Social Networks: Portals of truth and faith; new spaces for evangelization,” he said,
The challenge facing social networks is how to be truly inclusive: thus they will benefit from the full participation of believers who desire to share the message of Jesus and the values of human dignity which his teaching promotes.

Believers are increasingly aware that, unless the Good News is made known also in the digital world, it may be absent in the experience of many people for whom this existential space is important.
At the same time, though, Pope Benedict XVI criticized the use -- and volume -- of information coming from various sources, including celebrities. He said,
At times the gentle voice of reason can be overwhelmed by the din of excessive information and it fails to attract attention which is given instead to those who express themselves in a more persuasive manner.

The social media thus need the commitment of all who are conscious of the value of dialogue, reasoned debate, and logical argumentation; of people who strive to cultivate forms of discourse and expression which appeal to the noblest aspirations of those engaged in the communication process.
The pope joined Twitter on Dec. 3, 2012; he quickly gained 187,000 followers on the first day, despite the fact that it had been announced that it would be over a week before his holiness tweeted his first message.

Now, about a month and half later, he has 1.4 million followers. While that sounds huge, compare that with folks like Justin Bieber (33.6 million), Lady Gaga (33.5 million) and Ashton Kutcher (a mere 13.6 million), all celebrities.

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