MANILA, Nov. 22, 2013—The Holy Father may be present on social media but the Pontifical Council for Social Communications (PCSC) said it is not the Vatican’s intention to oblige bishops around the world to be social media enthusiasts if they are not comfortable with it.
PCSC secretary Msgr. Paul Tighe clarified that it was not the Vatican’s intention to force bishops to follow the Pope’s example of setting up and using Twitter. Tighe manages the Pope’s Twitter account since it was setup during the pontificate of Benedict XVI.
Tighe shared that bishops around the world has been pressured by their dioceses to also be present on social media because of what the Pope has done almost a year ago. But he said bishops should not if they are not comfortable with it.
“By definition, bishops and priests are older. Nobody should be on Twitter or present on Facebook unless they feel comfortable with it. Besides, it is not our campaign to get more bishops and priests on Twitter,” he said.
Tighe, however, urged bishops to encourage somebody or a group within his diocese to be present on social media and support them on being there.
“If I were a bishop in the diocese, I don’t think it’s about me being present on Facebook or having a Twitter account, but it is more of ensuring that within my diocese, there will be people who are going to be present on social media interacting, following conversations, asking or answering questions, and allowing people to ask them the hard questions. Then we will have a church that reflects our Church, that is not centralized to the bishops but it’s the whole community of believers,” he pointed out.
Tighe said these diocesan social media groups will be vital in the overall interaction of the Church online, especially with respect to the Pope’s tweets, each of which are being re-tweeted to an average of 20,000.
“When the Pope tweets, it gets a huge amount of reaction. The Pope can’t interactively engage but what we would like to do is to encourage the believer who doesn’t need a sanction from anyone to interact with that so that the Church is interactive in social media,” he added.
The Vatican official said that the Holy See gives a premium on its social media presence, recognizing its potential in interacting with the lay.
“Some people think that Twitter is a game, a toy and that it will soon pass away. It may pass away but the Pope said digital communications is here to stay and is not going to disappear. It is changing our world and its either we learn to become present or be left behind,” he added.
Tighe is currently in Manila to keynote the 2nd Catholic Social Media Summit organized by YouthPinoy on November 23 to 24 at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran in Intramuros. Registration is ongoing at www.catholicsocialmediasummit.com (YouthPinoy)