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Pope launches Vatican on YouTube

Pope Benedict in Rome on 21/1/09
The Pope is said to be fond of new technologies

Pope Benedict XVI has launched his own dedicated channel on the popular video sharing website, YouTube.

Video and audio footage of his speeches as well as news of the Holy See will be posted on the site, the Vatican says.

Although the Vatican has its own website, the YouTube venture represents its biggest reach into cyberspace, says the BBC's Duncan Kennedy in Rome.

Vatican officials say it is aimed at everyone from devout Catholics to the casual web user.

But there is a debate within the Catholic Church about the value of the internet as a missionary tool, our correspondent says.

'Digital generation'

The 81-year-old Pope's first YouTube message spoke of a new way to spread hope around the world:

"You must find ways to spread - in a new manner - voices and pictures of hope, through the internet, which wraps all of our planet in an increasingly close-knitted way," he said in Italian.

HAVE YOUR SAY
I think it is great. I am converting currently so would be good to watch.
Charlotte Kohler, London

Working in collaboration with YouTube's owners, Google, the Vatican is to supply a variety of material for its new channel, which was launched on the Church's World Day of Communications.

Featuring text, audio and video initially in English, German, Spanish and Italian, the channel marks the Vatican's latest foray into new media. The Vatican's own website (www.vatican.va) was launched in 1995.

The Catholic Church will retain full control of the content.

The aim of the deal was to "secure the Pope's presence on the web", said the Vatican's Osservatore Romano newspaper.

It added that Pope Benedict had always been "fond of new technologies".

Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, head of the Vatican's communications department, told the newspaper the Pope hoped to reach out to "the digital generation".

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