Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

The pope advises his followers to use Twitter

The social networking sites – often associated with postings of idle gossip and baby photos – could be used as "portals of truth and faith" in an increasingly secular age, the pontiff said in his 2013 World Communications Day message.

"Unless the good news is made known also in the digital world, it may be absent in the experience of many people," the 85-year-old pope said in the a letter published on the Vatican's website.

The Holy See has become an increasingly prolific user of social media since it launched its "new evangelisation" of the developed world, where some congregations have fallen in the wake of growing secularisation and damage to the church's reputation from a series of sex abuse scandals.

The pope himself reaches around 2.5-million followers through eight Twitter accounts, including one in Latin.

Belying his traditionalist reputation, the pope praised connections made online which he said could blossom into true friendships. Online life was not purely a virtual world but "increasingly becoming part of the very fabric of society", he said.

A practical Catholic tool
Social networks were also a practical tool that Catholics could use to organise prayer events, the pope suggested. But he called for reasoned debate and respectful dialogue with those with different beliefs, and cautioned against a tendency towards "heated and divisive voices" and "sensationalism".

The websites were creating a new "agora", he added, referring to the gathering spaces that were the centres of public life in ancient Greek cities.

The speech coincided with the launch of The Pope App, a downloadable program that streams live footage of the pontiff's speaking events and Vatican news onto smartphones.

Pope Benedict's embrace of new media responds to the church's concern that it is invisible on the internet.

The Vatican commissioned a study of internet use and religion prior to the pope's Twitter debut, which found the majority of US Catholics surveyed were unaware of any significant church presence online. – Reuters

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and receive a 40% discount on our annual rate..

Related stories

Advertising

Subscribers only

Wild garlic harvesters back in court

Healers say the plant is part of their heritage, but officials counter that it is a protected species

Oil boom may be the industry’s last hurrah

Biggest players in the game show signs of recovery but a low-carbon future may threaten fossil fuel

More top stories

Africa’s national airlines face troubled skies

The continent’s aviation industry won’t survive unless countries start cooperating with each other

Wildlife owners may target state

South Africa has about 350 facilities with 8 000 to 12 000 lions bred in captivity for commercial use in cub petting, canned hunting and the lion bone and other body parts trade.

Noise pollution affects plants and their pollinators

A study of piñon and juniper show that regular exposure to loud sounds affect plants’ growth while birds dispersing seeds move away

EU-banned pesticides are harming farmworkers in SA

The department does not even have a list of registered pesticides, a damning report finds
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×