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1/23/2009
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The Pope Comes To YouTube

The Vatican's YouTube channel offers videos of the pope's speeches, news, and other religious information.

Pope Benedict XVI already has a channel to God; now he has a channel on YouTube, where he will compete for attention with the Jonas Brothers and the rest of the world's spotlight seekers.

"Today's good news is that the pope is on YouTube," said the Rev. Federico Lombardi, S.I., director of Vatican Radio, the Vatican Television Center, and the Holy See Press Office. "Many people all over the world want to know and understand what the pope thinks, what the Catholic Church says about the major problems facing the world today. Now this is easier with the new Vatican channel on YouTube, currently available in English, Spanish, German, and Italian."

The new channel provides links to the pope's speeches and other religious information.

According to Lombardi, viewers "can use YouTube's built-in interactive features to send messages, comment, and to share videos of interest with their friends. This initiative is aimed at creating a climate of dialogue, and at promoting open communication in all directions."

At present, however, the communication is neither open nor bidirectional. None of the 12 Vatican videos that have been posted include any comments, despite hundreds or thousands of views. That's because all comments on the Vatican channel must be approved. At the time this article was written, not a single comment had been approved.

The pope's presence on YouTube is the latest sign that Google's online video sharing site has become a major force in global communication. The site's reach is already well-known to the U.S. political elite: YouTube videos appear on the new White House Web site and the U.S. Congress has its own YouTube channel for addressing online video viewers.

YouTube in October attracted more than 100 million videos, according to ComScore. Videos served from Google sites that month, 98% of which came from YouTube, represent almost 40% of U.S. videos viewed online.

And YouTube's reach looks like it will expand further. In a conference call for investors on Thursday, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said that he expected YouTube videos to become more accessible to TV watchers because an increasing number of consumer video-device makers are including support for Internet video.

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