The Vatican's Facebook guru

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The power of new media was illustrated in a disturbing way in the violent riot that broke out in Sydney's CBD last weekend. It erupted in the course of a demonstration by Muslims against the trailer for a very D-grade film, Innocence of Muslims, which was posted on YouTube.

The Sydney protest was part of general outrage by Muslims around the globe which drew attention to the trailer, and it went viral with millions viewing it on YouTube. And police in Sydney are now investigating the trail of text messages and social media sites that Muslim protestors used to organise themselves.

The man featured in the above interview grapples daily with the dilemmas and promises of new media, and is trying to harness its potential to communicate about religion in a positive way.

Monsignor Paul Tighe is Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the Vatican department charged with trying to shape how the Church presents itself to the world.

The video also features excerpts of the keynote address he delivered at the recent Australian Catholic Media Congress in Sydney. His talk was called 'Communicating the word: timeless messages, new media'.

Tighe was born in Navan in County Meath, Ireland, in 1958, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1983 for the Archdiocese of Dublin. After ordination, he studied moral theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

In 1990 he was appointed a Professor of Moral Theology at the Mater Dei Institute in Dublin, and in 2000 he became head of the institute's theology department. In 2004 he was named as director of the communications office of the Archdiocese of Dublin.

While in this job, Tighe also started the Office for Public Affairs to aid communications between the Church and government, public institutions and non-government organisations in Ireland and Europe.

In these roles he proved himself to be a very able communicator and administrator, and in 2007 Pope Benedict XVI appointed him as secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications based in Rome. In this job he formulates Church policy on media, and is a key advisor to the Pope. He also works with Catholic media agencies around the world, with a special focus on helping them to come to terms with and capitalise on new media. 


 

Peter KirkwoodPeter Kirkwood is a freelance writer and video consultant with a master's degree from the Sydney College of Divinity. 


Topic tags: Peter Kirkwood, Paul Tighe, new media, Muslim protest

 

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