PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Catholic church is steeped in religious traditions which date back centuries. But the message of the church is getting a modern boost with social media.

“You can’t really talk to an iPod congregation with an 8-track sermon,” said Rocco Palmo, a blogger who chronicles news in the Catholic church.

Palmo has been writing about the church since 2004 on his blog “Whispers in the Loggia.” And he has been asked to chair a new media conference at the Vatican wile he is there covering Pope John Paul II’s beatification this week.

“I’m used to reporting on other people who get calls from the Vatican,” laughed Palmo. “I’m not used to getting calls from the Vatican.”

His site started with three followers and now gets thousands of visits a day. The church, he says, is catching up to new media quickly.  Pope Benedict XVI now has his own Facebook page with more than 8,000 fans. And Cardinal Justin Rigali posts his messages on youtube.

Some churches are embracing social media like Saint Raymond’s of Penafort in Mount Airy. The pastor says it is a way to get in touch with a new generation of churchgoers, and he says it is working.

Watch the video…

“Jesus said to teach all nations,” said Father Christopher Walsh, “but he didn’t say how.”

Father Walsh updates the church site often, with links to Twitter, Facebook, and sermons posted on ustream.  

“Social networking is not a fad. It’s not isolated to teens.”

Social media has allowed the church to share its message with a new generation, combining the traditions of the past with the technology of the future.

Reported by Oren Liebermann, CBS 3

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