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The Vatican launches its own YouTube channel

February 2, 2009

by Mark Ollig

Watching YouTube videos has become a regular viewing pastime for many Internet users, ever since it began operating in February 2005.

YouTube has generated much attention – and even some copyright controversy – as it has become one of the Internet’s most popular viewing channels.

The amazing thing I find about YouTube is that anyone using a computer can create and upload a video which has the potential to be viewed by millions of people within minutes.

Most of us remember last year’s famous ranting of Chris Crocker’s “Leave Britney Alone!” YouTube video. Crocker’s video has been viewed over twenty-four million times.

We also said, “aww, how cute,” as we watched a cat lovingly taking care of her newly adopted squirrels, which can be seen by searching for “Cat Adopt Squirrels” on YouTube.

Some of us cringed as we listened to next American Idol “wanna-be” singing off-key or laughed ourselves silly as YouTube’s own teen hit “Fred” runs in circles and screams hysterically about forgetting to take his medications.

One popular YouTube video shown nationwide during the July 2007 presidential debates was the 19-second climate change question asked by the animated “Billiam the Snowman” created by Minnesota’s own Greg and Nathan Hamel of Minneapolis.

It seems everyone (including your humble communist) has a YouTube channel these days. Mine is at http://www.youtube.com/bitsblogger.

Our newly elected President Obama also has a YouTube video channel located at http://www.youtube.com/user/changedotgov.

So, who is the newest arrival onto the YouTube channel scene?

It’s the “Vatican Channel,” located at http://www.youtube.com/vatican.

“Today is a day that writes a new page in history for the Holy See,” Vatican radio said in describing the launch of the new YouTube site.

The Vatican said it hopes, by having a YouTube channel, it may “. . . broaden and unite the pontiff’s audience – an estimated 1.4 billion people are online worldwide – while giving the Holy See better control over the pope’s Internet image.”

Monsignor Claudio Maria Celli, who supervises the Vatican’s social communications office, said the pope fully approved of the YouTube channel, saying, “he (Pope Benedict XVI) was ‘a man of dialogue,’ who wanted to connect with people wherever they were.”

When Monsignor Celli was asked if Pope Benedict himself “surfs the Web,” he replied: “Knowing him, that he’s a man of research, a man who is up to speed with things, I’d have to respond affirmatively.”

In making the Vatican’s presence known on YouTube, Pope Benedict XVI welcomed viewers to this “great family that knows no borders” and said he hoped they would “feel involved in this great dialogue of truth.”

It is interesting to note his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, in 1995 launched the opening of the Vatican’s web site, http://www.vatican.va.

Under John Paul, the Vatican also began using text-messaging and sent out daily texts with the pope’s prayer of the day.

The Vatican’s press office alerted the world of John Paul’s death by sending an e-mail with a text-message alert to the media April 2, 2005.

Monsignor Robert Wister, professor of church history at the Immaculate Conception School of Theology at Seton Hall University in New Jersey, stated “. . . while the YouTube initiative was novel, it was in keeping with the church’s history of using whatever means is available to communicate: parchment, printing press, radio, television and the Internet.”,

The Vatican says it will update the Vatican’s YouTube channel daily, with papal news produced by the Vatican television station and Vatican radio.

When I checked last week, the Vatican’s YouTube channel had 10,455 subscribers and more than 384,000 channel views.

Twenty-three videos have been uploaded to the Vatican’s YouTube channel as of last Tuesday.

Another famous name with a YouTube presence is Queen Elizabeth, who is online with “Welcome to The Royal Channel,” the official YouTube channel of the British Monarchy. The Royal Channel has been on YouTube since December 2007. You can watch and listen to it at http://www.youtube.com/theroyalchannel.

Wikipedia also provides information about YouTube. You might want to check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/youtube.

On this week’s “Web Site of The Week,” the bits_blogger will feature some popular and interesting YouTube web sites – so be sure to stop by and check it out.