The first ever Vatican sponsored gathering of Catholic bloggers is being hailed as a success by participants.
The conference was hosted by the Pontifical Council for Culture. It drew a large amount of interest with over 750 bloggers applying to attend and over 9 million Google hits on the subject over the past five weeks alone. Logistics determined that only 150 could take part, so organizers held a drawing, deciding who could attend.
At the end of the event, organizer Richard Rouse seemed delighted.
“It went really well. I’m really glad we had this meeting. It was completely uncontrolled and uncontrollable so I’m glad that it’s taken place. I thought the best thing was the meeting face to face of different bloggers. That was great.”
Most bloggers in attendance seemed to feel that the Vatican was genuine when it said it didn’t want to control the Catholic blogosphere. There was also a general welcome for the Vatican’s own attempts to overhaul its online presence. Reservations still remained, however, about the local level.
“At the Vatican level I’ve been assured that they’re there’s no interest in regulating bloggers - and I believe them. These people don’t lie,” says Rome-based Canadian blogger Hilary White of the “Orwell’s Picnic” site.
“What I think is that they (the Vatican) are trying to do today is to send out a message to the national bishops conferences to say ‘let them go, bloggers are here to stay and that they’re going to keep saying things that people don’t want them to say and they’re going to keep looking under rocks that nobody wants them to look under'.”
As the meeting broke up, there was enthusiastic talk of another similar gathering or even more localized versions of the get-together.