Forget about the pulpit, start tweeting says Vatican official


The Vatican’s top communications experts say tweeting and other social media is the way to go.

Bishop Paul Tighe, a Vatican culture secretary,  says they are finding people on Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and other all-inclusive, non-denominational digital houses of worship.

Tighe has been in Lisbon for Web Summit, Europe’s largest tech conference.

Before he left he told USA Today that “We’re used to one direction for communications. We’re used to a microphone or a pulpit,”

“In digital media you only gain an audience if you engage with people and listen to their questions and are willing to debate with them.”

Much of the Catholic Church’s strength is “no longer going to come from Rome but from building up capacity at a local level where we can have a more conversational, participatory form of dialogue,” Tighe said.

He said that in general the Vatican views social media as a place to reach people who might not ordinarily “tune in” to its various messages.

But it also wants to avoid shoving those messages down peoples’ throats. “We are not trying to sell anything or bombard people or manipulate them,” he said.

Tighe, who moved from the Vatican’s communications office to its culture beat last year, said about 600 people work in the Vatican’s communications department, but only half a dozen are devoted to social media, mostly related to managing Pope Francis’ popular Twitter account: @Pontifex. That’s going to change.

The church is “realigning” the department to focus more on social media, including using analytics tools that can track the reach of its accounts. The Vatican will explore all the social media platforms to see which will make a good fit, Tighe said.

Currently, the church is receiving advice from Instagram, a visual-heavy platform which he said “works quite well” for the church.

Tighe, (born 1958) has been the Adjunct Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture since his appointment on 19 December 2015.

He is the highest-ranking Irishman in the Roman Curia and was consecrated a bishop on 27 February 2016.

He previously served as secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications from 30 November 2007. Before that he was  director of the Office for Public Affairs in the Dublin diocese.

Web Summit ran from Monday to Thursday and was attended by 50,000 people from 165 countries.

About 15,000 companies were represented and 7,000 CEOs and business leaders attended


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