Pope Benedict XVI has taken to social networking, and how! The newest Twitter convert has urged Catholics all over the world to use social networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest to spread their faith to non-believers.
“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,” the Pope said in an address on the 47th World Communications Day, also the feast day of St. Francis de Sales, the patron saint of journalists and writers.
Spreading faith, digitally
Talking about the importance of social networking sites as “portals of truth and faith”, and “new spaces for evangelisation", the Pope called the digital space a new “agora” or an open public square in which people share ideas, information and opinions, and in which new relationships and forms of community can come into being. In his address, the Pope discussed how Christians can help and support the development of social networks in a positive manner.
The Pope did have a few issues with celebrities and marketing tactics on social networking sites drowning the voice of those who wanted to discuss truth and values. “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,” said Pope Benedict XVI.
The Pope had started to tweet from his official account @Pontifex on December 12 last year and amassed a million followers within a day of his first tweet. He reached out to his followers globally with a tweet that read, “Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart.”
The Pope’s official account spans eight different languages and over a million followers now.