B16 is entering the digital world...a world without boundaries. It has actually proven effective for a great deal of people: politicians and religious leaders. Evangelicals love YouTube--decentralized information networks as a means to disseminate their religious views, a tool of proselytization. But, ironically, it is also a tool of control:
The Vatican said it was launching the channel to broaden Benedict's audience while also giving the Holy See better control over the papal image online.
Why do they need to control his image? You might think they need to do spin control on the Papal or Vatican positions and how they are taken by the rest of the world: on birth control, homosexuality, etc. But they mean this quite literally: the actual visual image of the pope:
"It's undeniable that certain images are already circulating," Celli said. While there is little the Vatican can do legally to shut down blasphemous or pornographic sites that use the papal or other Church images, he said it can at least control the content of what it puts up on its own channel.
Pornographic sites with pictures of Benedict XVI? I'm sorry...I just don't see how an 81-year-old pope would be that...exciting.
The internet is, indeed, a mixed bag of treats, sort of like the everything jelly beans from Harry Potter. The Pope, in fact, recognizes this, and not just in terms of image control:
The site, http://www.youtube.com/vaticanit, was launched the same day the pontiff praised as a "gift to humanity" the benefits of social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace in forging friendships and understanding.
But Benedict also warned that virtual socializing had its risks, saying "obsessive" online networking could isolate people from real social interaction and broaden the digital divide by further marginalizing people.
You can see the Pope at www.youtube.com/vaticanit.