(Vatican Radio) It was one year ago that Pope Francis launched his Instagram account. To mark the occasion, we spoke with the Secretary of the Secretariat for Communications, Msgr. Lucio Adrian Ruiz, who recalled the origins of the Holy Father’s vision for evangelizing the “digital continent”.
“[T]he best thing of all was the meeting with the Holy Father, when Kevin [Systrom, co-founder of Instagram, ed.] came and presented the idea to the Holy Father, with the main objective being to communicate a message through the [use of] an image,” Msgr. Ruiz recounted to Alessandro Gisotti.
“The Holy Father responded,” Msgr. Ruiz explained, “talking about the theology of the image, as the Church has always experienced pictures as a way to be close to the people and even to do catechesis: [Pope Francis] told of church paintings, and recounted an important experience.”
Ruiz went on to say that, for Pope Francis, images are enormously important, and that the Pope in his conversation with Systrom said that, when he approaches children, and the children do not want to talk because they are shy, he shows them a picture and then asks them what it is, and then they loosen up a bit – and even need to be stopped and reined in because they become so enthusiastic in their talk about themselves.
Msgr. Ruiz said Pope Francis sees images as “The access point to a dialogue.”
Asked what lessons communicators – especially Catholic communicators – can learn from the communications style of Pope Francis, Msgr. Ruiz responded, “We are in the digital culture: in the words of Pope Benedict, there is a ‘digital continent’, a reality into which we must enter and live, because, if man is there, the Church cannot fail to be there, too – and must be there in the same dynamic with which the missionaries approached things when they discovered another continent, another reality.”