Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Pope tweets, sort of . . .

Yesterday's big news: Pope Benedict XVI's first tweet, launching the website where Vatican news will be aggregated and available,

Brilliant PR maneuver. Really! Not being snarky!!

By mid-afternoon, I'd already had several public and back
channel conversations about this on Twitter.  Later that evening, I was  in conversation with The Daily reporter, Carl Franzen (@CarlFranzen) whose article, "Tweet Heavens!" rolled out this morning. 

Things move very quickly via social media, which is more than I can generally say for my beloved church. You do know that joke about responsiveness within the Roman Catholic church, right? "We'll get back to you in 400 years."

Franzen nicely captures my view about the trajectory of this "news," so I hope you'll read his article. It's blessedly short. What space did not permit there was my riff about the tension between what is symbolic and what is real, which is this: 

Let's get real, the Holy Father did not and probably will not be crafting tweets. And this is not "cheating" or "lying" or "disingenuous." This is the reality of issuing communications by and from a high ranking church official.

Although my experience in church communications is primarily within and for the Catholic church, I say with all confidence that it's not unusual for leadership in all denominations to rely on the skills and smarts of communications professionals.

Be assured that those of us called upon to (holy) ghost write for archbishops, bishops, and parish-level clergy view this use of our talents as a great privilege.

Our work is generally vetted up the cleric food chain, often with Canon lawyers weighing in. The tweet issued by the Pope was innocuous enough to sail through the process. 

I say that tweet, no matter who wrote it, had great symbolic value. Who knows what will show up next? Should be real interesting.

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