The Internet and Religious Leaders

March 24, 2009

In today's digital era, leaders who do not keep up with online information and changes can find themselves struggling to keep up. One prime example recently is the Pope, who says he will spend more time looking at online comments. In a letter to bishops, Pope Benedict XVI claimed he did not know at first about the controversy surrounding the views of Bishop Richard Williamson. The Pope said:

I have been told ... that consulting the information available on the Internet would have made it possible to perceive the problem early on.

I have learned the lesson that in the future, in the Holy See we will have to pay greater attention to that source of news.
Perhaps to prove the point, the Pope's letter was released online the day before its official release. The Reverend Federico Lombardi, the Pope's spokesman, added, "We never had control of that message." He also said that a "culture of communication still remains to be created" at the Vatican. These are important lessons for all religious leaders and it will be interesting to see which ones are able to adapt to the digital era.