Vatican holds first whole-day bloggers’ summit
The Vatican held recently its first one-day bloggers’ convention with selected bloggers from all around the world participating, in an effort to boost relations with the Catholic online community.
The blogging summit was held on May 2 and was the handiwork of the Vatican’s Pontifical Councils for Social Communications and for Culture, according to RNS.
The convention is an indication that the Vatican is beginning to recognize the value and potential that lies in going online. Some 150 bloggers were invited to the convention out of 750 bloggers who had applied from all around the world, RNS said.
The participants included priests, Orthodox Catholic commentators and skeptical observers who became internet celebrities in their own right, according to RNS.
Rev. Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, opened the convention noting that he is not a blogger, but ever since he started to receive a digest of “informal” Catholic blogs every day he has changed, RNS said.
Lombardi said Catholic bloggers express “the public opinion of the church.” He also announced the launching of the Vatican’s multimedia portal, www.news.va which will be forthcoming in a few months and is designed to make use of social networking, RNS said.
The Vatican hopes that through efforts like the bloggers convention, the Catholic Church can begin to embrace the online community and use this as a way to communicate with the coming generation of online Catholic faithful, Digital Trends said.
Nine million hits
The bloggers’ convention drew more than nine million hits on Google search engines in the last five weeks. Monsignor Paul Tighe of the Vatican’s social communications office said the initial convention focused on attendees getting to know each other, Techzone 360 said.
Tighe said, “It’s very much a first step, to meet with, to hear their concerns, to try to talk about some of the things we’re doing and see if people want to take it further or how they think it might be helpful to take the discussion further,” Techzone 360 reported.
The act by the Vatican to embrace bloggers has been viewed as an interesting development. However, the Vatican said it does not intend to start its own blog, as it feels the informal tone does not blend well with the Holy See, Digital Trends said.
Nonetheless, the Vatican is expanding its online reach, in time with the beatification of Pope John Paul II. It already has a Facebook page, Twitter and YouTube channel. It has already run clips of the late pope’s papal years, and set up electronic postcards and a news portal for the youth, Techzone 360 said.
Priests are also being encouraged to make use of social networking and IT to reach out to the faithful. An iPhone app is available that provides the latest news and developments from the Roman Catholic Church, Digital Trends said.
Archbishop Claudio Celli, who heads the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, told bloggers during the convention that the Vatican wants to start “a dialogue between faith and the emerging culture [blogosphere],” Techzone 360 reported.
Rocco Palma, who writes “Whispers in the Loggia,” said the bloggers convention is a way of recognizing “our contribution to the life of the church,” adding that attendees include “many of the finest professional communicators,” who are not paid for blogging, Techzone 360 said.
Among the topics discussed was the issue of how blogging is changing. Many countries, it was noted, now prefer to communicate through Twitter, according to Techzone 360.