SALAMANCA, Spain, APRIL 29, 2009 ( The director of the Vatican press office acknowledged that the challenge of his role in the Church is not only to disseminate information, but to make it increasingly interactive.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi said this today in an acceptance speech for an honorary doctorate awarded to him by the Pontifical University of Salamanca, a press release from the school reported.

The priest noted some novel actions that the Church has undertaken to adapt to the new realities, such as the Vatican channel on YouTube in four languages with daily news videos, meetings organized for more than 13,000 webmasters of Catholic Italian sites and the creation of Web pages to discuss bioethical issues.

The Vatican spokesman analyzed the evolution of the communication field with the development of internet and satellite broadcasting during the last decades.

He underlined the "speed and amplitude with which information is disseminated on the internet" and the multiplicity of voices, which makes it "difficult to insert responses or managers" and also hinders the verification of facts.
As examples, Father Lombardi noted some controversies he has dealt with from his post in the Holy See's press office: the Pope's speech in Regensburg, the discussion of traditionalists and Bishop Williamson, and the Pontiff's statements in Africa on condom use.
The priest acknowledged that it is impossible for the Church to communicate without provoking "contradictions and conflicts" in contemporary society.

Father Lombardi spoke about his experience with Pope Benedict XVI, noting the Holy Father's coherence and intellectual capacity, which "give him the courage to maintain uncomfortable positions without wavering faced to the dominant culture."

The spokesman recalled that Pope John Paul II was criticized for a long time as being a "conservative and backward Pole, ignorant of the modern world." However, the priest said, in the end the Pontiff was respected as a "brave and coherent man, solidly rooted in his faith and able to testify to it in distinct situations of life."