Pope to courts faithful on new YouTube channel

Holy See reportedly planning to start posting video and audio clips online

The Holy See appears set to start riding the Web 2.0 wave.

According to a report in a British newspaper, the Vatican is set to launch its own channel on YouTube, posting video and audio clips of Pope Benedict XVI's addresses, along with news about the Pontiff.

The Daily Telegraph reported that the Vatican will announce its plans for YouTube this week. Oliver Rickman, a spokesman for Google, which owns YouTube, said in an email to Computerworld that many world leaders, such as Queen Elizabeth II and the US Senate communicate with constituents via You Tube. However, he declined to confirm whether the Pope is about to start his own channel.

The Vatican could not be reached for comment.

Pope Benedict XVI may be taking a page from other public figures who have successfully used social networks and other Web 2.0 tools to get their messages across. President Barack Obama, who was inaugurated as the 44th US president this week, seemingly showed other politicians what it means to harness the power of the Web. During his campaign for president, the then-senator went beyond the somewhat static Web pages of most past campaigns and tapped the power of Web 2.0 tools, including Facebook, YouTube, blogs and discussion boards, to create a conversation with potential voters.

For the Catholic Church, creating a YouTube channel "is a good idea," said Dan Olds, principle analyst with the Gabriel Consulting Group. "In fact, it's one of their best ideas. The problem for the church is getting to the grass roots in a vast world wide audience. They have to get their message to people in the medium that they're using."

This isn't the Vatican's first foray into the online world.

About 14 years ago, the Vatican launched its own web site, http://www.vatican.va/phome_en.htm offering access to Vatican Secret Archives and Vatican Museums. It even sports a section all in Latin.

The Catholic News Service, which is connected with the Vatican, is no online slouch either, running its own Facebook page , which includes the Pope's greeting to Obama, as well as news stories, notes and blogs.

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