for Agence France-Presse on Jan. 31, 2009
Pope Benedict XVI's launch of a Vatican channel on global video-sharing website YouTube fell on slightly deaf ears Friday, according to early viewing figures.
By 1630 GMT, http://it.youtube.com/vatican had drawn a total of 14,606 views and signed up just 528 subscribers to what the Holy See describes as "the Catholic Church's position regarding the principal issues of the world today."
The channel, which was to be updated regularly with daily offerings on the the main activities of the pontiff and other Vatican events, lagged way down the list of popular YouTube videos.
A video entitled "Bratz Dolls May Give Girls Unrealistic Expectations Of Head Size" was at the top of the site's flagged clips at the same time, having racked up more than 185,000 views.
The Holy See already runs a website, TV channel, and radio station, but the deal with YouTube owner Google was aimed to "secure the Pope's presence on the web", Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano said Thursday.
New digital forms of interaction "lead to fundamental changes in human relations, especially those between the young," Pope Benedict said of Friday's web launch.
The internet amounts to a "real gift for humanity" and it is important it is harnessed to help those people and communities "most in need or vulnerable," said the 81-year-old pontiff.
He warned however that it would be the source of great "sadness" if the desire to build online relations came at the expense of time spent with one's family, neighbours and meeting on a daily basis.