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Pope Making Moves To Spread The Catholic Message Online

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Interesting news coming out this week from Ruth Gledhill at The Times reporting that the Pope has officially announced that he is rolling ahead on getting the Roman Catholic Church online in a real way. As she reports:

The Vatican is seeking ways to embrace full online “interactivity” with all one billion members of the global Roman Catholic Church.

The Catholic Church wants to emulate and globalise President Obama’s use of the internet both during his election campaign and with more recent events, such as an online question-and-answer session at the end of March that attracted 100,000 questions and 3.6 million votes

Not surprisingly given this new strategy, the internet figures prominently in the Church’s  43rd Annual World Communications Day (this year on May 24th) — with the Pope actively urging young people to spread the religious word online. The campaign’s site comes complete with a YouTube channel, iPhone application and “WikiCath” — a collaborative text in the style of Wikipedia. A little digging also reveals plans for a papal Facebook profile, set to go live during the event.

I wonder about the long-term effects of this, particularly with regards to the way that the Catholic Church has traditionally regulated its doctrine and message from a centralized hierarchy. Will increased exposure to the internet and adoption of more collaborative, dialogue-based platforms threaten this standing order? This question somewhat emulates the question of governments and the internet: and it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out in the case of organized religion, and if the outcomes will be the same or quite different.

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