Last week was a good week for Catholic social media enthusiasts. On Wednesday, January 23, the Pontifical Council on Social Communications, released The Pope App for iPhones and iPads. The Android version will be ready in about a month. On Thursday, January 24, the Vatican published Pope Benedict’s Message for the 47th World Communications Day, “Social Networks: Portals of Truth and Faith; New Spaces for Evangelization.” The Vatican traditionally publishes this message on January 24, the Feast of St. Frances de Sales, the patron saint of writers. This year World Communications Day is May 12.
As a user of more and more apps (but certainly not an expert on them), I am very pleased with The Pope App. It is simple in its design, well organized and easy to navigate. The menu provides access to interesting and useful links.
The area called “Live” is a live video feed of events with the Pope. The Webcams give live pictures 24/7 of Saint Peter’s Square, Blessed John Paul II’s Tomb, Dome of St. Peter’s, the Government, Saint Peter’s Basilica and Castel Gandolfo.
The Section called “From the Pope,” provides links to the Pope’s current speeches, audiences and messages. This is where I found the link to this year’s Communications Day Message. I was able to read it on the app and email it to myself. I also posted the link on Facebook and Twitter from the app.
On December 12, 2012, Pope Benedict launched his own Twitter account (@Pontifex ) which now has over 2 million followers worldwide. His tweets are simple and direct statements, blessings and simple questions which inspire reflection on the beauty of faith. I do not think we should underestimate the importance of the Holy Father’s participation in social media (at 85 with a very full schedule.) We know that it is unlikely that His Holiness is sitting at a computer or digital device posting these tweets himself. But on a regular basis, he takes a few minutes out of his day to compose a personal message to be posted. He recognizes the significance of the digital world and is making himself present there. This app is one more sign that someone at the Vatican “gets it.”
Next week we will look at Pope Benedict’s message for World Communications Day which articulates the Church’s growing awareness of the role and benefit of believers on social networks.
Have you downloaded The Pope App? What do you think?
PS: If you want to learn how to take screen shots from you iPhone, you can use the directions that I followed on EHow.