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Vatican City (dpa) – In the latest bid to broaden Pope Benedict XVI’s appeal among computer savvy, younger generations, the Vatican is to post the pontiff’s profile on popular online social networking site, Facebook, officials said Monday.
“The pope has a great interest in these things,” Archbishop Claudio Celli said in an interview with television news channel Sky TG24.
Celli pointed to how the 82-year-old pontiff similarly backed the creation earlier this year of a Vatican site on Youtube, the video sharing internet channel, where clips featuring Benedict’s activities regularly appear.
“The pope is inviting us to promote a culture of dialogue, of respect and friendship,” especially among young people,” said Celli, who heads the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Social Communications.
“We think this pontifical council itself has to use new technologies to promote new relationships around the world,” he said, adding that “we must take advantage of what the new technologies are offering us at this very moment.”
The Facebook initiative is sponsored by the, headed by Celli, and is being developed as part of a new Vatican website, scheduled to go live on the Catholic Church’s World Communications day on May 24.
Titled “The Pope Meets You on Facebook,” the new application allows people to send and receive “virtual postcards” of Pope Benedict along with inspiring text culled from the pope’s various speeches and messages.
Celli said some 20 different postcards would be initially available, but that the choice may be expanded later so that people can “spread around the messages and insights from the Gospel.”
The new site was designed by Italian priest, Paolo Padrini, who has spearheaded recent Vatican forays into cyberspace, including development of the iBreviary, an application that allows Catholics to access Church liturgy on iPhone mobile phones.
The site also allows viewers to receive news about the Vatican and the pope through their iPhones or iPod touch portable music players, with video and audio reports in eight eight different languages, including Chinese.
Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) – May 18, 2009
Copyright 2009 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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