May 22, 2009

Pope Benedict headed for Facebook

Vatican officials said Pope Benedict XVI will soon have a Facebook account as part of the Roman Catholic Church's online outreach program.

Jesuit priest Father Federico Lombardi, head of Vatican Radio and the Holy See press office, said the online push will also involve a new Vatican Web site, www.pope2you.net, that is scheduled to begin operations Sunday to mark the church's World Communications day, The Daily Telegraph reported Friday.

The Vatican created a YouTube channel for the pope earlier this year as part of the Web-based effort.

Lombardi said the online push is partially modeled after U.S. President Barack Obama's use of the Internet during his election campaign and since taking office.

Archbishop Claudio Celli, who leads the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Social Communications, said there will be an iPhone application tied to the pope's Facebook account that will allow users to send and receive virtual postcards featuring the pontiff and quotes from his speeches.

The pope is inviting us to promote a culture of dialogue, of respect and friendship, especially among young people. We think this pontifical council itself has to use new technologies to promote new relationships around the world, Celli said. We must take advantage of what the new technologies are offering us at this very moment.