Yesterday the Vatican held its first-ever summit of Catholic bloggers, just a day after the extensive celebration of the Beatification of Pope John Paul II. Many Catholic bloggers from the U.S. attended, and you can view a pretty exhaustive play-by-play in Lisa Hendey's Twitter stream (view the hundreds of tweets from May 1!).
From a report by the Catholic News Service, Richard Rouse said the following on the purpose of the summit:
The Vatican meeting, he said, was not designed as a how-to seminar, and it was not aimed at developing a code of conduct, but rather to acknowledge the role of blogs in modern communications and to start a dialogue between the bloggers and the Vatican.
This is exactly the kind of meta-level view that I think is important to the Church's development of a strong online presence. Many people are too focused on the 'ooh, that's fancy! How do I do that?' way of doing things.
On the Pope's involvement in social media and online communications, Fr. Lombardi had the following to say:
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told the bloggers that while Pope Benedict XVI "is a person who does not Tweet or have a personal blog, he is very attentive and knows well what is happening in the world" and supports Catholic media efforts, as seen by his Good Friday television interview and by his book-length interview with the German writer Peter Seewald.
This is a great model for many of our spiritual leaders to follow; their primary mission is the care of our souls. A person in a sacramental position in the church may, but not must, participate in online communication activities... but never at the forfeit of his mission to care for the souls of God's people—only in support of that mission.
I'm encouraged by what I've heard so far about the summit... but I'm also waiting to hear more personal accounts of the summit, mainly from some of the many American bloggers who attended (Lisa Hendey, again, has a concise list of those who attended in this post).