Today Pope Benedict XVI expressed his appreciation for social media telling Time.com it represented an opportunity to provide a voice to people kept silent for much too long.
Well, he didn't say it like that. He actually said social media was “the starting point of communication for many people who are seeking advice, ideas, information and answers.”
He's a sly one, that Pope Benedict, and I mean that with the utmost respect. It would have been easy for him to have continued to ignore social media, or become a detractor, focusing on its less than stellar aspects as a time-wasting rumor mill, but instead he came out with his scepter blazing in defense of what is arguably the most powerful communication tool in the history of human kind.
Unfortunately, I don't think his pronouncement about the benefits of social media will have much impact. It's unlikely Catholics have been avoiding using it, or confessing their social media sins every Sunday ("Forgive me Father for I have Facebooked...")
I was raised a Catholic, though I am not a practicing anything, and I have an abundance of family and friends who remain practicing Catholics, and none of us have had any qualms about social media.
This May the Vatican will take part in the 46th World Day of Social Communications where it is anticipated more discussion about the impact of social media on the human species will take place, and even more pronouncements, some good, some maybe not so good, will be made.
Until then Catholics may continue to use social media to stay connected to their friends, family, church and the greater global conversation without worrying about whether or not they are committing a sin.
But eventually Lent will come around I predict at least a few of them will be giving up Facebook.