SEATTLE - For more than 2,000 years Christians have contemplated the ways to spread God's word. Now, word from above - from the Pope himself - says that clergy around the world should go forth... and Facebook.
In a newly issued edict, Pope Benedict XVI indicates that it's apparently time to move on from stone tablets to Twitter when bringing the message to the masses.
"It does connect you in an incredible way," said Father Jim Northrup of Bothell's St. Brendan Church. "You feel more connected to other people around the world and you have access to that immediately."
Fr. Northrup has been pod-casting, facebooking and blogging the gospel for years. He's a true believer in social media as a way to spread the gospel.
"I think we should use whatever means of communication we can," he said.
But there are inherent pitfalls when using interactive media to disseminate a message.
"The Web is a two-way conversation and (clergy) have to be prepared that everybody has a pulpit - and they're not afraid to use it," said social media expert Chris Pirillo, a lapsed Catholic and self-proclaimed "technology Evangelist."
He says clergy will have to learn fast that the rapture of social media can quickly turn hellish when the fires of differing opinions are lit.
"Priests probably already have a thick skin, but I don't think anybody is prepared for the onslaught of negativity that comes from people online - especially if you're used to 'preaching to the choir,' so to speak," he said.