Saturday, December 14, 2013

Analog popes taking tentative taps in a digital age

POPE READS BOOK AT CASTEL GANDOLFOThough he prefers to use pencil and paper, the pope emeritus is fascinated by high-tech tools.

Retired Pope Benedict’s personal secretary, Archbishop Georg Ganswein, told reporters yesterday that the pope shows great interest in the archbishop’s iPad.

“When I show him something on the iPad, and I’m making the information slide by on the screen with my fingers, these new technologies pique his interest from time to time,” he said.

The 57-year-old archbishop said the retired pope “doesn’t think these things are ruled out for an elderly person” like himself.

In fact, some may remember, Pope Benedict became the first pope in history to own an iPod when Vatican Radio staff gave him a 2-gigabyte white nano in 2006.

When the head of the radio’s technical and computer services department identified himself and handed the pope the boxed iPod, the pope was said to have replied, “Computer technology is the future.”

It’s doubtful he’s ever used the iPod, even though it was loaded with works by his favorite composers, like Mozart.

He never used the laptop he got as a gift just a few days after he broke his right wrist in 2009, preferring to use a voice recorder instead to put down his thoughts and ideas.

But he tapped away with no problems when presented with a tablet launching the very first @Pontifex Twitter accounts and tweets almost exactly one year ago today, and when he inaugurated the Vatican’s online news portal, news.va in 2011.

He also lit the world’s largest electronic Christmas “tree” from a Sony S Tablet two years ago from his papal apartment.

Though he isn’t immersed in the digital world, Pope Benedict repeatedly endorsed it as the new frontier for evangelization.

Pope Francis launches smartphone app Missio featuring Catholic news, papal homilies, missionary effortsPope Francis, too, is no digital native. 

As most people know, he prefers phonecalls and letters to IM and email.

Though he launched the Pontifical Mission Societies’ Missio App in May, he, like his predecessor, needed close coaching to figure out what to press on the iPad’s smooth button-less screen.

When he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, he once said that he would try to start using the Internet when he retired.  

Obviously a plan that now may be delayed.

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