A woman in St Peter’s Square holds photos with the words “Blessed Pope John Paul II” in Italian. CNS photo

VATICAN CITY – The Vatican is inviting Internet bloggers to Rome for an unprecedented meeting to foster “informal exchange and contact”.

The May 2 event aims to take advantage of the influx of international bloggers coming to Rome for the beatification of Pope John Paul II a day earlier.

While all are invited to apply, only a limited number of blogging attendees will receive a formal invitation to attend the meeting at the St Pius X auditorium.

Participants will be selected with reference to the timeliness of request, blog subject and the language and geographical location of the blogger. Attention will also be given to the nature of blogs as institutional or private, multi-voice or personal.

The encounter marks a first for the Church, which has put emphasis on opening up channels with new media platforms through a series of initiatives in recent years.

The Vatican has only gradually entered social networks, setting up YouTube and Facebook accounts for the Pope and even promoting Pope John Paul II’s May 1 beatification through Twitter.
According to an April 7 statement from the Vatican, the May 2 event is “to allow for a dialogue between bloggers and Church representatives, to listen to the experiences of those who are actively involved in this arena, and to achieve a greater understanding of the needs of that community”.

During the meeting, Church initiatives to engage those who work in new media will be presented and panel discussions held.

The first panel will include five bloggers representing the Italian, English, French, Polish and Spanish languages, respectively. A second panel of still unannounced Church communications personnel will offer their experiences in new media and look at initiatives meant to engage bloggers.

Vatican representatives taking part in the encounter include Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi of the Pontifical Council for Culture, and Fr Federico Lombardi, SJ, director of the Holy See’s Press Office, Vatican Radio and the Vatican Television Centre.

The Vatican statement says the organisers see the meeting as “an opportunity for informal exchange and contact between those attending with a view to opening further avenues of interaction”.  - CNA/EWTN NEWS

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