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Vatican creates online presence for John Paul II as beatification nears
Vatican creates online presence for John Paul II as beatification nears
By Alan Holdren
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.- With the help of Facebook and YouTube users, the Vatican hopes to create a broad audience for material on the life and teachings of the soon-to-be beatified Pope John Paul II.

The Vatican’s television center and Vatican Radio have teamed up with the Pontifical Council for Social Communications to produce two new webpages on YouTube and Facebook.

The Facebook page offers audio and video content to prepare “friends” and any other passersby for the beatification of the late-Pope on May 1, 2011.

The viewer can see videos from the Vatican's YouTube sites that recount various milestones on Pope John Paul’s path to beatification, including the Jan. 14 announcement of the upcoming ceremony in Rome.

Beatification is a step on the road to sainthood and John Paul II's “cause” was approved this year by Pope Benedict XVI after a miracle was attributed to his intercession. The miracle involved a French religious sister who was cured of Parkinson's disease after praying for his help.

One more miracle must be approved before official recognition of his sainthood and subsequent “canonization” in the Church.

The Facebook page also offers a series of year-in-review video clips—beginning with Pope John Paul II’s election to the papacy in 1978—that are gradually being uploaded to YouTube. The videos present images from papal trips and speeches to highlight the major events of the individual years.

According to a statement from the Vatican, the projects carry the seal of the Vatican and has the objective of “accompanying” the faithful on the route to the May 1 beatification. Through the intitiative, they hope to make a part of the “vast documentary patrimony” of the Vatican television and radio archives available for greater access.

Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, Vatican spokesman and director of both the radio and television centers, told Vatican Radio on March 14 that the webpages were created to put people back in contact with John Paul II through images and words.

Videos are available in five languages for the moment, including English.

Fr. Lombardi said that that they “would be happy if all those who, also from other sites and personal Facebook pages, wish to link together to share this wealth of images and sounds.”

For him, the memory of the late-Pope lives on with youth today, but social networks do even more to make his presence more easily accessible in a multimedia format.

“We must seek to emit a huge wave of positivity, of friendship, of spiritual values through the open paths of social networks,” said Fr. Lombardi. “And what could be more beautiful and powerful than the image and voice of a Pope who was so loved by all of humanity?”

He welcomed the collaboration of all people, young and old, to spread the “positive messages, the messages of hope through social networks” and new technologies.

The new pages, located at www.youtube.com/giovannipaoloii and www.facebook.com/vatican.johnpaul2, are now available online. 

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