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Vatican says thousands are visiting its YouTube clips

World News

There were more than 750 000 visits to the Vatican’s YouTube channel in its first week of operation after it was launched on 23 January in what was seen as an attempt to link the Roman Catholic Church to modern forms of social networking.

"The Google analysts we have consulted think our channel is absolutely aligned with the levels of visits of other [sites] that were launched even much earlier," the Rev. Federico Lombardi, the director of the Holy See’s press office, was quoted as saying by the Catholic News Agency CAN.

"During the first six days since the opening of the new channel, the page views in the four languages have reached more than 750 000," Lombardi stated at the end of January.

The Vatican’s YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/vaticanit) broadcasts short video clips updated daily on the activities of Pope Benedict XVI and Vatican developments, with audio and text in English, Spanish, German and Italian.

"The Catholic Church tries to be present where the people live," Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council of Social Communication, said at the launch.

He said Pope Benedict XVI, in a papal message published to mark the Catholic Church’s World Social Communication day on 24 May, had in mind the "digital generation", and particularly, "young people, who have grasped the enormous capacity of the new media to foster connectedness and understanding between individuals and communities".

However, while visitors can make Internet comments on the Vatican’s YouTube clips, these will not be published on the Web site, Lombardi explained.

The style of the Vatican’s announcement for the YouTube video channel on 23 January has been contrasted by Italian Vaticanologist Sandro Magister with that following the lifting of the excommunication of four clerics who were followers of dissident Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre of France. Shortly before the official announcement, it was revealed that one of the four, Richard Williamson, had made statements denying that the killing by the Nazis of Jews in gas chambers had taken place.

The YouTube announcement took place at a media conference, "with great pomp", and a concern, "to transmit the authentic meaning of the initiative to the media", Magister wrote on his Web page.

"But nothing of the sort was done for the decree concerning the Lefebvrist bishops," Magister noted. "The Vatican press office limited itself, on Saturday, January 24, to distributing the text of the decree, in spite of the fact that the news had already leaked out a few days earlier, and a fiery controversy was already growing around the statements denying the Holocaust made by Williamson."

Still, concluded Magister, if nothing was done, "It was not the fault of the Vatican press office and its director, Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, but of the offices of the curia from which they receive their orders."

(c) Ecumenical News International

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