The Washington Times-Herald

Community News Network

January 24, 2014

Pope sees Internet as 'gift from God'

(Continued)

Pope Francis' comments don't go as far as those of Pope Benedict in 2009.

That's when he came under fire for lifting the excommunication of a Holocaust-denying bishop, Richard Williamson, claimed ignorance of the man's past and then wrote this whopper:

"I have been told that consulting the information available on the internet would have made it possible to perceive the problem early on. I have learned the lesson that in the future in the Holy See we will have to pay greater attention to that source of news."

In reality the Vatican has for years — well before Francis — been debating how to modernize its communications.

It has long run large radio and TV operations but had a relatively small communications office for the world's largest faith organization. Reporters have been frustrated by a press office run by one, albeit friendly, Jesuit and press releases to global media released only in Italian.

In part because of the aforementioned debacle involving Bishop Williamson, efforts were stepped up.

In 2010, the Vatican spent $6 million to create a high-definition mobile television studio to better broadcast images of the pope. Around that time the Vatican also announced a partnership with Google to create a Vatican YouTube channel. Then in December 2012 it launched @pontifex, a Twitter feed that now has close to 10 million followers in at least six languages.

The rub is, the whole attitude was still "we go to the world. It wasn't we look into the world, it was the world comes to us," said Rocco Palmo, a well-known blogger on Vatican and U.S. church news. "Williamson was the bright line. This is a big learning curve for the whole church, which is hierarchical, it's not used to people talking back."

Palmo says Pope Benedict doesn't get credit for being the one under whom the Vatican began these discussions, in part because the German theologian never stopped being known for his quarter-century tenure as a doctrine enforcer (before he became pope).

Text Only
Community News Network
  • Does Twitter need a censor?

    Twitter decided last year to make images more prominent on its site. Now, the social network is finding itself caught between being an open forum and patrolling for inappropriate content.

    August 21, 2014

  • Police chief resigns over racial slur repost to Facebook

    A repost on his personal Facebook page of a racially-charged comment by the original poster of a comedy video has forced the police chief of an Oklahoma city to resign his office.

    August 21, 2014

  • sleepchart.jpg America’s sleep-deprived cities

    Americans might run on sleep, but those living in the country's largest cities don't appear to run on much.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Who should pay for your kids ACT?

    Thirteen states paid for 11th-grade students in all public high schools to take the ACT college admission test this year, with several more planning to join them in 2015.

    August 20, 2014

  • Pets.jpg Why do people look like their pets?

    As much as we might quibble over the virtues and vices of Canis domesticus, however, and over whether human nature is any better or worse than dog nature, even dog fanciers don't usually want to look like a dog.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ice bucket challenge trending up

    Internet trends are a dime a dozen these days. Everything from Tebowing to planking to the cinnamon challenge can cause a wave of social media activity that can last for weeks before fizzling out.

    August 19, 2014

  • Africa goes medieval in its fight against Ebola

    As the Ebola epidemic claims new victims at an ever-increasing rate, African governments in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia have instituted a "cordon sanitaire," deploying troops to forcibly isolate the inhabitants in an area containing most of the cases.

    August 18, 2014

  • Democrat? Republican? There's an app for that

    If you're a Republican, you might want to think twice before buying Lipton Iced Tea, and forget about Starbucks coffee. If you're a Democrat, put down that Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, and throw away the cylinder of Quaker Oats in your pantry.

    August 18, 2014

  • Five myths about presidential vacations

    In the nuclear age, presidents may have only minutes to make a decision that could affect the entire world. They don't so much leave the White House as they take a miniature version of it with them wherever they go.

    August 15, 2014

  • Can 6 seconds launch a career? A generation of Vine stars sure hopes so.

    A year ago, Shawn Mendes filmed himself singing a tentative acoustic cover of the Justin Bieber song "As Long as You Love Me" and put the results on Vine. He wasn't expecting much response. "I didn't really want anything to happen; I just kind of wanted to see what people would think," says Mendes, 16. "I posted that first Vine and woke up the next morning with 10,000 followers. That was pretty cool."

    August 14, 2014