The Vatican shows up at SXSW

By Paul Wedding

Last week, the City of Austin held its annual South by Southwest festival, a congregation of both music from across the world as well as new movies making their premiere. The festival also holds a lesser-known technology conference, where tech giants from around the world come to discuss innovations and the industry as a whole.

The Vatican made its presence known for the first time in the 30-year history of the festival to discuss its role in social media in a panel called Compassionate Disruption: Innovation and the Vatican.

Credit: American Magazine
The panel consisted of the Vatican’s Bishop Paul Tighe, alongside Christoph Krachten of Videodays, Michael Hertl of the German Catholic TV Office and Helen Osman of SIGNIS: World Catholic Association of ¬†Communication. During the panel, they discussed how one of the oldest organizations in the world is using modern technology and social media to interact with its massive community of followers.

Currently. the Catholic church is doing pretty well on social media. Pope Francis has more than 10 million followers on his Twitter account, on which he tweets out remarks and opinions of the church at least once a day.

In an interview on NPR, Tighe stated that the church was invited to SXSW and said “it seemed to us very important to avail of the opportunity to participate in the discussion” and also noted that “digital reality has caused people to rethink things they are doing. And for church, we have to rethink what we’re doing.”

The idea behind this being that it’s very clear that young people use social media a great deal, one could even say they use it religiously. And with this immense use is the opportunity to influence those who consume their social media on an hourly basis. Something like a religious organization could see this as a way to stay in tune with their followers. It allows them the opportunity to learn and interact more with their religion and the people involved. And if they start engaging more on social media, they’ll start engaging more in real life.

The main point behind this being, social media has much more use than just for businesses, or even that of religious organizations, it can be used to spread ideas, and with ideas comes conversation and progress.


Published by

UNT Eagle Strategies

Class members of the social media class in the Mayborn School of Journalism