Pope to Catholics Online: 'It's Not Just About Hits'

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Pope Benedict XVI reminded Catholic bloggers and Facebook and Youtube users Monday to be respectful and sensitive when witnessing to others about Jesus Christ.

He also said the ultimate goal of spreading the gospel online should not be about how many hits they get.

The pope called for a "Christian style presence" online that is responsible, honest, and discreet.

"We must be aware that the truth which we long to share does not derive its worth from its 'popularity' or from the amount of attention it receives," Benedict wrote in his annual message for the church's World Day of Social Communications.

"The proclamation of the Gospel requires a communication which is at once respectful and sensitive," he added.

The head of the Vatican's social communications office, Archbishop Claudio Celli, said it was certainly correct to direct the pope's exhortation to some conservative Catholic blogs, YouTube channels and sites which, with some vehemence, criticize bishops, public officials, and policies they consider not Catholic enough.

"The risk is there, there's no doubt," Celli said in response to a question. He confirmed that the Pontifical Council for Social Communications was working on a set of guidelines with recommendations for appropriate style and behavior for Catholics online.

Celli said the Holy See was working on a new multimedia portal that would be the point of reference for the whole Vatican that he hoped would be operational by Easter. It would start out in English and Italian, with other languages added later.

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