Home   |  About Us   |  Contacts   |  Products    
 News Items
 Top Stories
 News Briefs
 Vatican
 Origins
 Africa
 Headlines
 Also Featuring
 Movie Reviews
 Sunday Scripture
 CNS Blog
 Links to Clients
 Major Events
 2008 papal visit
 World Youth Day
 John Paul II
 For Clients
 Client Login
 CNS Insider
 We're also on ...
 Facebook
 Twitter
 RSS Feeds
 Top Stories
 Vatican
 Movie Reviews
 CNS Blog
.
 For More Info

 If you would like
 more information
 about Catholic
 News Service,
 please contact
 CNS at one of
 the following:
 cns@
 catholicnews.com
 or
 (202) 541-3250

.
 Copyright

 This material
 may not
 be published,
 broadcast,
 rewritten or
 otherwise
 distributed,
 except by
 linking to
 a page on
 this site.

.
 CNS Story:

TIGHE-TWEET Dec-13-2012 (460 words) Sidebar to POPE-TWEET of Dec. 12. xxxi

The good, bad, ugly: Church can't shy away from Twitter's Wild West

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- With Pope Benedict XVI's new presence on Twitter, people from all over the world can now post papal messages with just the push of an on-screen button.

While many have welcomed the pope's foray into the virtual world, his @Pontifex handles and "reply-able" posts have also meant that rude and crude comments have come with the mix.

Twitter is "an open communications platform," and the Vatican has readily embraced what the full-fledged exercise of freedom of speech entails, said Msgr. Paul Tighe, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, which organized and runs the pope's eight language-based Twitter accounts.

"We knew there would be negative stuff," he told Catholic News Service Dec. 13, the day after the pope first tweeted more than 1 million "followers." The number of followers of the pope's multi-language accounts nearly doubled to more than 1.7 million just 24 hours later.

The Irish-born Msgr. Tighe said that in sifting through the feedback, "what stuck with me most was all the lovely stuff," the positive and genuine comments and queries in the midst of the ugly.

Just because there is a negative side to new media doesn't mean the church should shy away, he said.

Social media has allowed people to be "very honest and even more than honest at times" in a very public way, he said. "But you can't abandon it and leave it at that. We have to see its potential to do good" as a tool for evangelization and as a global forum for respectful dialogue and debate.

The wrong approach would be to "chase after all the negative, and then let it define who you are," he said.

Pope Benedict, instead, has called on Catholics to engage online with respect and with a genuine and earnest spirit, the monsignor said.

He said the pope has even called on priests to do the digital dive, saying, "Let's give a soul to the Internet, not just content."

Msgr. Tighe suggested priests, religious and other Catholics "jump right in and answer people's questions" that have been submitted using the @Pontifex and #Pontifex tags. Sometimes, veiled under the sarcasm or criticism, are signs of "a genuine searching," he said.

"Just seeing what's being said can help you think through how to engage with people more positively," and it can offer insight into what prejudices or misunderstandings need addressing, he said.

"The church is more than Rome and the pope," he said, so people should feel free to pitch in, lend a hand with the outreach and help "raise the level of discussion."

The pope's new Twitter accounts also are the pope's way of encouraging people to engage, he said, and take part in the new evangelization in new ways.

END


Copyright (c) 2012 Catholic News Service/USCCB. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed.
CNS · 3211 Fourth St NE · Washington DC 20017 · 202.541.3250