In his message for the Roman Catholic Church's World Day of Communications on Saturday, the Pope, who is 82 and known not to love computers or the internet, acknowledged priests must make the most of the "rich menu of options" offered by new technology.
"Priests are thus challenged to proclaim the Gospel by employing the latest generation of audio-visual resources – images, videos, animated features, blogs, websites – which, alongside traditional means, can open up broad new vistas for dialogue, evangelisation and catechesis," he said.
Priests, he said, had to respond to the challenge of "today's cultural shifts" if they wanted to reach young people.
But Benedict warned priests not to strive to become stars of new media. "Priests present in the world of digital communications should be less notable for their media savvy than for their priestly heart," he said.
After decades of being wary of new media, the Vatican has decided to dive in head first.
Last year, a new Vatican website, http://www.pope2you.net, went live, offering one application where you can meet the Pope on Facebook, and another allowing the faithful to see the pope's speeches and messages on their iPhones or iPods.
The Vatican has long had a website, now in eight languages, and a year ago it created a news channel on the YouTube video sharing site.
Benedict still writes most of his speeches by hand in German and it is younger aides who manage his forays into cyberspace.
Last year the Vatican was embarrassed when the Pope admitted that, if the Church had surfed the web more, it might have known that a traditionalist bishop whose excommunication was lifted had for years been a Holocaust denier.
The Roman Catholic Church established World Communications Day on May 16 1966.
This year's theme is "The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in a Digital World: New Media at the Service of the Word."
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