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Be tech-savvy to reach masses: Pope
Pope Benedict XVI

New Delhi, March 23: Soon, the shepherd will guide his flock with the help of a mouse.

Pope Benedict XVI has asked Catholic priests across the world to make use of “cutting-edge technologies” to reach out to the faithful.

In the recent message, the 82-year-old pontiff said priests should use all multimedia tools at their disposal to preach the Gospel and also engage in dialogue with people of other religions.

“Priests stand at the threshold of a new era. As new technologies create deeper forms of relationship across greater distances, they are called to respond pastorally by putting the media ever more effectively at the service of the world,” the Pope said in his message to celebrate World Communications Day on January 24.

Christ’s message, the Pope added, “can traverse the many crossroads created by the intersection of all the different ‘highways’ that form cyberspace and show that God has his rightful place in every age, including our own”.

The Pope made it clear that using emails wasn’t enough. “Priests should use cutting-edge technologies to express themselves and lead their communities. Make astute use of the unique possibilities offered by modern communications,” he said.

In other words, log in and start blogging or open a facebook account. The advice has been taken to heart by India’s Catholic Church. It has decided to launch websites for every diocese and major church in the country.

“The Pope’s message is in tune with the changing times,” said Father Joseph Danniel. The pontiff, the priest added, had “rightly” pointed out that a presence on the web would “bring the Church into contact with followers of other religions, non-believers and people of every culture”.

As the first step to stay tuned, all churches in metros and cities will have websites. The Church has also decided to include the new media as part of the course for those studying for priesthood in seminaries.

However, it has been left to individual priests to decide if they wanted to blog or open a facebook account.

“We can’t insist that every priest in the country must blog. But if anyone is tech-savvy and feels it will help him get his message across more efficiently, he can always do that,” said Fr Danniel.

In his message, the Pope has also reminded priests that they shouldn’t get carried away by the new media. “Priests present in the world of digital communications should be less notable for their media savvy than for their priestly heart, their closeness to Christ,” he said, urging priests to stay true to their vocation.

The Pope himself is considered Net-savvy. Last year, the Vatican had launched a YouTube channel as well as a portal dedicated to the Pope.

The Pope2You site gives news on the pontiff’s trips and speeches and features a facebook application that allows users to send postcards with photographs of Benedict XVII and excerpts from his messages.

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