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Pope exhorts priests: Use internet to evangelize

Catholic World News - January 25, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI strongly encouraged Catholic priests to use the internet as a tool of evangelization, in his message for the 44th World Day of Social Communications.

"Church communities have always used the modern media for fostering communication,” the Pope writes in his message. Using the powerful new communications tools of the internet, he said, the Church can “help the men and women of our digital age to sense the Lord's presence, to grow in expectation and hope, and to draw near to the Word of God.”

“No door can or should be closed to those who, in the name of the risen Christ, are committed to drawing near to others,” the Pope argued. He remarked that the internet can help “create deeper forms of relationship across greater distances,” opening up enormous new possibilities of evangelization.

Directing his attention particularly to the clergy during this Year for Priests, the Pope noted that priests are called to serve the pastoral need of their people, and at a time when so many people—especially young people-- are involved with new means of electronic communication, that priestly task “necessarily involves using new communications technologies.”

"Priests can rightly be expected to be present in the world of digital communications as faithful witnesses to the Gospel,” the Pope said. Toward that end, he added, priests and seminarians should be trained “to use these technologies in a competent and appropriate way.”

Properly used, the Pope said, the internet can be harnessed “to build a vast and real fellowship, and to testify in today's world to the new life which comes from hearing the Gospel of Jesus.”

The World Day of Social Communications will be observed on May 24. By tradition the Pope’s message for that occasion is released on January 24: the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of journalists. The papal message was introduced to the media at a press Vatican press conference chaired by Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, the president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

Archbishop Chelli noted that Pope Benedict has made “a positive assessment of new technologies” and recognizes their value as a means of spreading the Gospel message. “He is aware of their utility and knows they can make a positive contribution to pastoral care,” the archbishop said.

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