Sunday, January 29, 2012

Pope Benedict praises Twitter-like forms of communication

He may be a traditionalist in terms of doctrine, but Pope Benedict XVI has again proved he is au fait with the latest developments online in an address praising the potential of social networks as well as warning of their limitations.

In what will be seen as a discreet reference to Twitter, he said: "In concise phrases, often no longer than a verse from the Bible, profound thoughts can be communicated, as long as those taking part in the conversation do not neglect to cultivate their own inner lives."

Reflecting on new forms of interaction in advance of the church's World Communications Day, the leader of more than a billion Catholics worldwide said: "The process of communication nowadays is largely fuelled by questions in search of answers." 

He called for the relentless chatter of the internet to be balanced by silence and contemplation.

"Search engines and social networks have become the starting point of communication for many people who are seeking advice, ideas, information and answers," he said. 

"In our time, the internet is becoming ever more a forum for questions and answers – indeed, people today are frequently bombarded with answers to questions they have never asked and to needs of which they were unaware."

"Ultimately, this constant flow of questions demonstrates the restlessness of human beings, ceaselessly searching for truths, of greater or lesser import, that can offer meaning and hope to their lives."

Benedict held out the possibility that some sites might foster better communication than others, and urged the faithful to take note of them.

"Attention should be paid to the various types of websites, applications and social networks which can help people today to find time for reflection and authentic questioning, as well as making space for silence and occasions for prayer, meditation or sharing of the word of God."

The Catholic church has made significant efforts to keep up with the digital revolution. 

Last June Benedict tweeted using an iPad to announce the inauguration of a Vatican news service, and the hierarchy gave its blessing to an iPhone app that lets believers keep track of their sins. 

The official Vatican twitter feed is at and daily bulletins, including papal encyclicals and addresses, are posted on the Holy See's website.