Having already conquered social networking and texting, Pope Benedict XVI has now moved on to YouTube videos. The Vatican has its own YouTube channel, and while B16 isn’t personally filling it with home-made videos, he is encouraging young people create faith-filled videos.
"Dear brothers and sisters, I ask you to introduce into the culture of this new environment of communications and information technology the values on which you have built your lives,” he said in his May 24 World Communications Day message released now because Jan. 24 is the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron of journalists, Zenit News Agency reports.
“It falls, in particular, to young people, who have an almost spontaneous affinity for the new means of communication, to take on the responsibility for the evangelization of this 'digital continent.' Be sure to announce the gospel to your contemporaries with enthusiasm,” he continued.
I doubt the feast day of St. Francis de Sales is often celebrated outside of organizations such as the Catholic Press Association, but by speaking to non-traditional journalist, the pope reveals that he is keeping up with journalism trends that emphasize user-generated content.
Benedict praised the many good things about new media such as staying connected with people, accessing information, and learning through interactive tools. Of course, Benedict also cautioned against digital overload that can “isolate individuals from real social interaction while also disrupting the patterns of rest, silence and reflection that are necessary for healthy human development."
In an eloquent defense of connecting over the Internet though, he attributed new media’s popularity to a fundamental and spiritual desire: "When we find ourselves drawn toward other people, when we want to know more about them and make ourselves known to them, we are responding to God’s call -- a call that is imprinted in our nature as beings created in the image and likeness of God, the God of communication and communion.”
I'm reminded of Donna Freitas' observation that Catholic youth don't create as much media as evangelical youth do because they think they aren't allowed to speak on faith issues. Hopefully young Catholic--if they are listening--will see this as permission to create their own youth culture.
You can see Donna Freitas and other interviewees on U.S. Catholic's own YouTube page.