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VATICAN CITY (RNS) The Vatican extended its digital communications capabilities on Friday (Jan. 23), when it launched its own video channel on the Web site YouTube.
The Vatican channel (www.youtube.com/vatican) features short video news clips about events involving Pope Benedict XVI and other Vatican officials in four languages — English, Spanish, German and Italian — and will be updated daily.
Videos are limited in length to two minutes or less, but the Rev.
Federico Lombardi, head of the Vatican press office, said officials hope eventually to offer full-length coverage of certain events, as well as videos in high-definition (HD) format and other languages.
Although users will be able to e-mail site administrators to react to content, the channel does not allow for the posting of comments by the public.
“Right now we would not be in a position to manage a global flow of comments and responses,” Lombardi told reporters.
The launching of the channel coincided with the release of Pope Benedict’s message for this year’s World Communications Day, Saturday (Jan. 24). Entitled “New Technologies, New Relationships,” the pope’s message dwelt on the promise and perils of social networking sites such as Facebook.
Benedict wrote that the popularity of such sites expresses a “fundamental desire of people to communicate and to relate to each other,” which he praised as a “reflection of our participation in the communicative and unifying love of God.”
But the pope warned young people in particular not to pursue “on-line friendships” at the expense of “real social interaction” with relatives, neighbors and co-workers.
“If the desire for virtual connectedness becomes obsessive, it may in fact function to isolate individuals from real social interaction while also disrupting the patterns of rest, silence and reflection that are necessary for healthy human development,” Benedict wrote.
The pope’s message also stressed the need for universal access to the latest communications technology.
In a reference to the so-called digital divide between rich and underdeveloped nations, Benedict wrote that it “would be a tragedy for the future of humanity if the new instruments of communication … were not made accessible to those who are already economically and socially marginalized.”
By Francis X. Rocca
Copyright 2009 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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