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Pope Benedict Gives Facebook, Twitter His Blessing



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    VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - DECEMBER 31: Pope Benedict XVI leads the First Vespers and Te Deum prayers at St. Peter's Basilica on December 31, 2009 in Vatican City, Vatican. On new year's eve two different perspectives converge; one is the end of the calendar year, the other is the solemn liturgy of Mary, which concludes with the Octave of the Nativity. The first event is common to everyone, the second is for believers. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)

    Even Pope Benedict knows that the number of friends you have on Facebook is not a valid indicator of how popular you are in real life. 

    The 83-year-old religious leader spoke about the good and evil sides of social media in a message for the Catholic Church's World Day of Communications.

    And while the pontiff is not about to get a Facebook account himself, he said digital communication is a mixed blessing.

    Pope Benedict showed in his address that he is not too old to understand that sites such as Twitter and LinkedIn offer "a great opportunity" to connect with other human beings.

    But even at 83-years-old, the pope, who leads a life of celibacy, said digital friendships should not be mistaken for the real thing.

    "It is important always to remember that virtual contact cannot and must not take the place of direct human contact with people at every level of our lives," Benedict said, according to Reuters.

    Pope Benedict urged his followers to take a break from tweeting and check the real life status of some of their neighbors and being more present with the people they "encounter in our everyday life."

    While the pope did not mention any specific social networking sites in his address, he did use the words "friends," "sharing" and profiles."