VATICAN CITY – The Vatican is launching iPhone and Facebook applications in an effort to help Catholics, especially younger generations, use new technologies to create a culture of dialogue, respect and friendship.

The new applications are part of a brand new Vatican website – www.pope2you.net – that went live on May 24, World Communications Day.

Sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the new site was created to help attract young people to and spread Pope Benedict XVI’s message for World Communications Day, the head of the council, Archbishop Claudio Celli, told reporters.

This year’s communications day message is dedicated to “New Technologies, New Relationships: Promoting a Culture of Respect, Dialogue and Friendship”. In his message, Pope Benedict XVI urged everyone, especially young people, to use the new media “in a positive way and to realise the great potential of these means to build up bonds of friendship and solidarity that can contribute to a better world”.

He also called on young people to “bear witness to your faith through the digital world”.

“Employ these new technologies to make the Gospel known, so that the good news of God’s infinite love for all people will resound in new ways across our increasingly technological world,” he said.

Archbishop Celli said the pope’s World Communications Day message inspired the council to create a simple, fresh site to work as a hub from which users can find some new ways the universal Church is present in the digital world.

The site offers viewers a link to a new application on the social networking site Facebook.

Titled “The Pope Meets You on Facebook”, the new Pope2You application lets people send and receive “virtual postcards” of Pope Benedict along with inspiring text culled from the pope’s various speeches and messages.

The Pope2You site also links viewers to a new way for people to receive news about the Vatican and the pope through their iPhones or iPod Touch portable music players.

In conjunction with the Vatican Television Center and Vatican Radio, H2Onews will distribute audio and video reports exclusively through the iPhone in eight different languages, including Mandarin.

It is “the first application of video news dedicated to the Catholic world, through which you can follow the travels and speeches of Benedict XVI” as well as major Vatican events, the Pope2You site says.

The main Pope2You site also offers a direct link to the Vatican’s channel on YouTube.

The site and its applications were developed by Italian Father Paolo Padrini, a diocesan priest from Tortona. He also helped develop the iBreviary application for the iPhone and the Catholic Facebook application called Praybook, which allows users to access and share with others traditional Catholic prayers and texts from the Liturgy of the Hours. - By Carol Glatz, cns

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