While most people look at Lent as a time to give something up or make some kind of sacrifice, it appears the Vatican is actually going to be adding an activity. Noting that a growing number of young Catholics are no longer devoting themselves to the Lenten traditions, the Pontifical Council for Social Communications has decided they can win over their followers by embracing social networking. The Vatican will start issuing various tweets that deliver the message of Lent on Ash Wednesday and will continue to do so straight through Easter.
Twitter (News - Alert) has been used for quite a few new uses over the last year or so. The British Supreme Court has recently decided that it would start sharing its rulings and caseload through Twitter. In Nigeria, protestors who are unhappy with their government have been sending messages back and forth using the social networking service.
Of course, when talking about the Vatican suddenly embracing a technology that they have long shunned, some of their followers might wonder if the church is buckling under a bit too much. Msgr Paul Tighe, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, is actively fighting some claims that say that Twitter would dumb down the messages from the Pope. “Many of the key Gospel ideas are readily rendered in just 140 characters,” he said.
This particular approach actually appears to be the first step in a new path for the Catholic Church -- and the Pope specifically -- to join the 21st century in increments. The announcement that the Pope would issue Lenten messages was on the heels of the announcement that the Pope would have a more permanent Twitter handle in the very near future. According to the Vatican, Pope Benedict will have his own handle and while he won’t be sending out all of the various tweets by himself, he will approve any messages that go out under his handle. The church appears to be taking steps to make sure that it is staying relevant in a world that is going more online than ever.
Edited by Rich Steeves