Pope Benedict XVI, in a message marking World Communications Day cautioned that communicating over social network websites like Facebook and MySpace, is not the same as face-to-face, in person communication. World Communication Day is on June 5th, but the Pope made his speech public on the feast day of St. Francis de Sales, because he is the patron saint of journalism.
The Pope said people should not stop having face-to-face conversations because they are communicating with others online, counseling: “It is important to always remember that virtual contact cannot and should not be a substitute for direct human contact with people at all levels of our society.” He implored Roman Catholics who blog or use Facebook or YouTube not minimize the message of Christianity as they try to gain an online audience.
The 83 year old Pontiff said “We must be aware that the truth which we long to share does not derive its worth from the amount of attention it receives.” He said the Vatican is still trying to keep up with new developments in the internet age, and he continues to write in longhand. However, he acknowledged that social networking websites give people the chance to make new friends and spread the Gospel.
The Pope urged Catholics to use the internet in a “Christian Way”, explaining that “This takes the form of communication which is honest and open, responsible and respectful of others.”
The Pope was elected in 2005 and under his leadership the Vatican has significantly increased its online presence with a YouTube channel and a Pope2You.net website.