Vatican launches social network challenge to Facebook

The portal's mission is to provide reliable information for people seeking the truth about Catholicism

An Italian startup backed by the Vatican Thursday launched a global portal for Catholic websites intended to provide reliable information for people seeking the truth about the Christian religion.

The website, www.aleteia.org, takes its name from the Greek word for truth and aims to give critical mass to Catholic social media that otherwise risk getting lost in the babble of the Web.

"More than a thousand partners have already joined and many more are expressing their support," Jesus Colina, the Spanish journalist who is president of the new venture, told reporters at a press conference in Rome.

The website encourages people to "Seek the truth: Ask your own question" and to share stories on other social media by clicking on a fish icon -- the fish was a traditional symbol for Jesus Christ in the early church -- in a gesture similar to "liking" something on Facebook.

The platform is initially available in six languages -- Italian, English, French, Portuguese, Spanish and Arabic -- and has a staff of 45 with offices in Rome, Washington and Paris.

An international editorial board of some 200 members includes the inventor of the iBreviary app that enables the faithful to find sacred texts on iPhone -- the Italian Catholic priest Father Paolo Padrini -- and will guarantee that the site's content is theologically kosher.

"Today there are 55 million searches every month for the English word 'God,'" Colina said in an interview with Vatican Radio. "But what do people find? Catholic sites are not well represented. We want the pearls that Catholic sites generate every day to appear in the top positions on Google and other search engines."

Colina said Catholic websites should see Aleteia as a megaphone that will give them increased visibility on the Web.

Supporters point out that a Google search for "pilgrimage" is currently likely to return answers directed at Muslims, while "religion" or "prayer" will lead to responses from rival faiths such as Scientology or the Mormons, that are better represented on the Web but have fewer adherents than the Catholic Church's 1.2 billion followers.

The initiative is backed by the Foundation for Evangelization through the Media, a Rome-based lay organization seeking to implement Pope Benedict's invitation to the faithful to proclaim the gospel on the "digital continent." It also has the support of the Vatican departments responsible for "new evangelization" and social media.

The venture will be backed by a new advertising platform providing Catholic-approved ads for Catholic websites fearful of being associated with inappropriate sexual content or "bogus" religious groups.

Both the platform, AdEthic, and the Aleteia website will be run by a former Google Italy manager, Andrea Salvati.

Catholic social media have hitherto been cut out of the online advertising market but that should change with the critical mass provided by the two new ventures, Salvati told Vatican Radio.

"In this case it really is unity that gives strength: where there is unity there is critical mass, there is an audience to be exploited and there is negotiating power that we can bring to the table with all the networks that distribute online advertising," Salvati said.

As well as ensuring the advertising content is appropriate for Catholic audiences, AdEthic will destine part of its revenue to charitable causes.

As a mark of www.aleteia.org's engagement with modernity, its homepage carried a comment Thursday by the Catholic communicator Father Robert Barron, who drew a comparison between Spiderman and Jesus Christ.

"Andrew Garfield, the actor who plays Peter Parker, is quite obviously an ordinary, and even geeky, kid who at decisive moments gracefully demonstrates godlike powers," Barron said in a comment published by the Catholic News Agency and hosted on the new site.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Philip Willan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?