A Vatican expert on social media has stated that Catholics should intentionally give the internet “soul.” Pope Francis spreads the Word through Twitter.
Monsignor Paul Tighe, who is the secretary to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications for the Vatican, made this statement during a speech that he gave during a technology conference in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. He stated that ‘the digital world is reality’, and that to ignore the power of social media was to essentially remove the Church from many people’s lives.
Pope Francis has, of course, totally transformed the public perception of his office and the Vatican through his embrace of social media. Although he does not write all of his tweets personally, he does approve the posts from his staff. He often tweets inspirational messages from his account @Pontifex. Lately, he has been tweeting about his trip to Korea and his upcoming trips to other nations in Asia.
Monsignor Paul Tighe also stated that the Vatican was concerned about what a total lack of Christian ethics from the internet could lead to. “If we withdraw, then we’re leaving those areas to the trolls. We’re leaving it to the bullies,” he stated.
Of course, there will be many conservative people within the Catholic Church that could view this change in technology and change in typical communication with some distrust. However, Monsignor Paul Tighe seems to have already anticipated this. He has ruled out removing some of the oldest and most treasured forms of communication that the Catholic Church uses, such as smoke signals, but has suggested that they could have tweeted the image when the smoke was released to indicate that Pope Francis had been chosen.
Back in May, the Head of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications for the Vatican, Archbishop Claudio Celli, spoke with digital media executives during the Church’s World Communications Day. He admitted that one of the Church’s main concerns was social media’s propensity to attract trolls or “nasty remarks” which is especially a concern for a figure like the pope. But he understood that modern social media is the modern frontier in the Catholic missionary. “It is about a Catholic Church that is keeping the doors open to everybody.”
This encouragement from well-respected members of the Vatican could encourage more Christians, especially Catholics, to engage with the world through various means, including social media.