Holy blog!

The Pope has recommended to his priests around the world that they blog. That's right! That they get to the blogging sites, set up a profile, and blog the gospel.

I was tickled brown to read this yesterday.

This Pope is bad-ass! (Is it sacrilegous to say that?) I mean, clearly he gets it. Clearly he realises that he is going to lose the youth among his global congregration if certain things don't get progressive and while we are not here to discuss some of the issues which generate so much debate among the brave who have a passion for debating religion, I am really very impressed with the Catholic Church, a body that on the surface seems so steeped in tradition, getting with the programme.

“The spread of multimedia communications and its rich “menu of options” might make us think it sufficient simply to be present on the Web, or to see it only as a space to be filled. Yet priests can rightly be expected to be present in the world of digital communications as faithful witnesses to the Gospel, exercising their proper role as leaders of communities which increasingly express themselves with the different “voices” provided by the digital marketplace. Priests are thus challenged to proclaim the Gospel by employing the latest generation of audiovisual resources (images, videos, animated features, blogs, websites) which, alongside traditional means, can open up broad new vistas for dialogue, evangelization and catechesis.” (The Pope via Mashable)

And this is not the first foray into social media for the Church either. The Pope is on YouTube, peeps and the Catholic Church has "apps". I did say, there is an app for everything and yes indeed, there are apps for your soul. I am just beside myself and wonder where I have been to not be aware of these things!

BUT...there had to be one...but

The challenge for the Church is using the social media effectively. It is all well and good to post some videos on YouTube, or blog about the gospel, but is the Church willing to be more outgoing, communicative and interactive where their content is concerned, i.e. are they willing to meet followers and detractors head on through communication? Or is this push a one way street, with the Vatican doing most, if not all of the talking? Are these blogs going to be weekly sermons without room for questions, concerns and feedback? Who is going to manage all the inevitable "customer" feedback - the good, the bad, and the ugly, cause let's face it, YouTube, Facebook etc attract the nutters as well and are essentially secular sites. This is assuming of course that feedback is going to be encouraged on these sites, which I can only imagine would be "yes".  Cause in truth, and in fact, the Church is pretty much like a business serving millions and millions of customers. So how is the Church going to add value to the average follower's life via its new and commended social media push?

The Pope has said "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".

The Pope is right. We have already talked about how social media can often take the place of social interaction in some instances and I do not see an establishment such as the Catholic Church becoming digitized to the point that the essence of fellowship is lost - interacting with people in real life. It does not mean there will be cyber churches springing up anytime soon via the Vatican, for the purpose is not to replace Mass or taking the family to church or doing good works.

Priests should get though, that it's social media and not just "media" and understand that once they open the floodgates, there really is no turning back. The nature of things like blogs and Facebook and Twitter facilitate communication. So getting close to followers will ultimately take some effort and they will have to manage their dedication to social media with that other dedication. But again, it should hardly replace what we have grown accustomed to. Rather it should enhance it and make it more attractive.

The idea I would assume is to really get closer to its followers around the world and hopefully hear what they are saying. But it's a great step forward for a Church that still seems so  "old school" to some.


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