* Pope on Facebook, but no 'poking him' or 'wall writing'
* "Church that can't communicate not a church," aide says
By Philip Pullella
VATICAN CITY, May 22 You won't get an email
saying Pope Benedict added you as a friend and you can't "poke"
him or write on his wall, but the Vatican is still keen to use
the networking site Facebook to woo young people back to church.
A new Vatican website, www.pope2you.net, has gone live,
offering an application called "The pope meets you on Facebook",
and another allowing the faithful to see the Pope's speeches and
messages on their iPhones or iPods.
The Vatican's World Communications Day this Sunday is
devoted to communicating the gospel with new technologies.
"We recognise that a church that does not communicate ceases
to be a church," said Monsignor Paul Tighe, secretary of the
Vatican's Social Communications department.
"Many young people today are not turning to traditional
media like newspapers and magazines any more for information and
"They are looking to a different media culture, and this is
our effort to ensure that the Church is present in that
Users of the new site can select from more than a dozen
"virtual postcards" with pictures of the pope and messages from
him on faith, love and life specifically aimed at young people,
and send them to other users.
The Catholic Church, which has seen vocations to religious
life decline and church attendance fall, has already turned to
Last January the pope became one of the oldest people to
have his own YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/vaticanit.
The pope, known to write most of his speeches by hand, while
his aides manage his forays into cyberspace, has even admitted
that the Vatican does not use the Internet enough.
The Vatican got egg on its face in January when the pope
admitted that, if the Church had surfed the web more, it might
have known that a traditionalist bishop whose excommunication
was lifted had for years been a Holocaust denier.
The new applications are currently available in Italian,
English, Spanish, French and Dutch.