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Bishop calls for Priests 2.0 to evangelise on the net

No fear of the flames

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A French Bishop has called for the Vatican to unleash a cadre of crack Web 2.0 trained priests to push the Church of Rome's message on the internet.

The call to spiritual cyberarms came from Monsignor Jean-Michel Di Falco, the Bishop of Gap, in France, at the opening of a Vatican conference on the internet this week.

Di Falco delivered a flurry of metaphors to describe the implications of the internet for the 2000-year-old papacy, the AFP reports, saying the Web "shuffles the deck, makes us step down from our pedestal, from our magisterial chair and makes us come out of our ghettos".

"Pope, cardinals, bishops, priests, lay people - with the Internet we enter a marketplace, a free and spontaneous space where everything is said about everything, where everyone can debate everything," he said.

The Church's response, he said, should be to "promote a Christian presence on the Web made up of operators including priests who of course master communication techniques but also provide spaces for research, encounters, dialogue and prayer."

A passing familiarity with Church history might see echoes of the counter-reformation, when the Jesuits were the spearhead of the Vatican's drive to push back the pesky protestants, and spiritually renew a creaking Catholic edifice. [Or, if you really want to have fun, try thinking of things in terms of Apple and Microsoft.]

The results were not always successful, with a number of Jesuits in England ending up in flames - the real kind, not the internet kind.

Still, Rome will not be short of helpers in its drive to stake out its space on the net. The likes of Facebook, Wikipedia and Google are all in Rome to participate in the Plenary Assembly of the Presidents of Episcopal Media Commissions from Europe’s Bishops’ Conferences.

Sessions include Young People and the Internet, Who Communicates Today, Is the Internet Changing our Religious Practices and The Challenge of the Church's Word in the Zap and Clicker Era.

Apparently, "Each day of the meeting will be marked by moments of prayer and the celebration of Mass".

Presumably there will be a sideroom with brightly coloured furniture and a fussball table for the Google and Facebook delegates to retire to when they need to throw a tantrum or peepee. ®

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