Facebook, Wikipedia execs brief Vatican on Web

Facebook, Wikipedia execs brief Vatican on Web Vatican City: Vatican officials and Catholic bishops are getting a lesson on the Internet from Facebook, Wikipedia and Google executives as the church struggles to get its message out in the digital age.

A four-day symposium in the Vatican which opened yesterday also will address Internet copyright issues and hacking -- including testimony from a young Swiss hacker and an Interpol cyber-crime official.

The meeting is being hosted by the European bishop's media commission and is designed to delve into questions about what Internet culture means for the church's mission and how the church communicates that mission to others.

Pope Benedict XVI has tried to bring the Vatican into the Internet age and launched a YouTube channel earlier this year. Officials say he also e-mails and surfs the Web.

But the Vatican's online shortcomings have been woefully apparent.

Earlier this year, Benedict made clear he was disappointed that Vatican officials hadn't done a simple Internet search to discover the Holocaust-denying comments of an ultraconservative bishop before the pontiff lifted his excommunication.

The outrage over the rehabilitation of Bishop Richard Williamson, of the traditionalist Society of St Pius X, prompted Benedict to write a letter to his bishops admitting mistakes and saying that he had "learned the lesson" and that the Vatican would in the future pay greater attention to the Internet as a source of news.

Bureau Report