Benedict XVI has joined the ranks of social network site users
First came Facebook, the popular social networking site. Then, the believers’ version, Faithbook. And today Pope Benedict XVI made an unlikely addition to the ranks of social network users. He has posted for the first time a message on a networking site for young Roman Catholics, asking for prayer during his forthcoming visit to France.
Each of the 35,000 users of Xt3.com (the letters stand for Christ in the third Millennium) today received a personalised version of this message from Pope Benedict:
“Dear Friends, Fifty days ago we were together for the celebration of Mass. Today I greet you on the birthday of Mary, Mother of the Church. Empowered by the Spirit and courageous like Mary, your pilgrimage of faith fills the Church with life! Soon I am to visit France. I ask you all to join me in praying for the young people of France. May we all be rejuvenated in hope!
Xt3.com was founded 50 days ago in Sydney during World Youth Day, the international papal youth rally attended by nearly half a million young Roman Catholics. It offers users the chance to build a personal profile with access to groups including “Theology on Tap” and “John Paul II, we love you”, as well as the opportunity to visit an “ask a priest” section to resolve moral dilemmas. Another function is a global prayer wall where users – who need not be Catholic – can post requests for prayer, and ask others to pray with them.
The director of Xt3, Ampleforth-educated Robert Toone, said: ‘We are delighted and deeply honoured to receive the Pope’s message. His Holiness is displaying his usual readiness to use the latest technology in his desire to communicate with young people.”
Xt3 is the merely one of a plethora of faith-based social networking sites now flourishing on the internet. muxlim.com which boasts “tens of millions” of young users in more than 190 countries offers a lively mix of polls, blogs, news and views such as polls on users’ favourite ‘Iftar’ snack to break the daily fast during Ramadan, and groups including “Newbie Hijabis” for “Ladies new to hijab”, as well as the more strident-sounding “Niqabis Unite”.
The Jewish Chronicle, the weekly British newspaper is also to relaunch its website this week with a social networking function for users.