Vatican praises bloggers as church's `public opinion'

May 3, 2011

VATICAN CITY (RNS) The pope may not be ready to start a blog or a
Twitter account, but the Vatican is taking note of the unruly world of
the blogosphere, recognizing its potential and the value of online
"conversations."

That much was clear on Monday (May 2) at the Vatican's first-ever
bloggers' convention organized by the Vatican's Pontifical Councils for
Social Communications and for Culture.

The 150 invited bloggers were mostly Catholic, picked from among 750
applications. Orthodox Catholic commentators were alongside skeptical
observers and priests who became Internet celebrities for their posts on
"Star Wars."

In his opening remarks, the Vatican's top spokesman, the Rev.
Federico Lombardi, conceded that he himself was not a blogger but that
his life has "changed" since he started receiving an "informal" digest
of Catholic blogs every morning.

Lombardi said the Vatican will launch a multimedia news portal
(www.news.va) in the coming months to harness the potential of expanding
social networks. Catholic bloggers, he added, are influential because
they give voice to "the public opinion in the Church."

Vatican correspondent and blogger Paolo Rodari wrote that an
"important Vatican personality" told him during the meeting that "some
bloggers' views" have a great impact on the appointment of bishops.

But Monsignor Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical
Council for Social Communications, remarked after the summit that some
bloggers' "aggressive language" is "astonishing."

For some Catholic bloggers, their voice is a necessary counterweight
to a perceived anti-Catholic bias of traditional media. "The Internet is
the land of he who speaks louder. So we have to shout too," noted one
French blogger, Francois Jeanne-Beylot.