I applaud Chicago attorney Chris Connors' recent decision to donate the Internet domain name popefrancis.com to the new pontiff. While it's not clear if church officials will accept Connors' offer, they have said the pope will most definitely have a website and are currently considering design options.
I'm glad to hear Francis is aware of the powers of online communication. His predecessor owned a Twitter account but the recently resigned Benedict never struck me as someone who spent much time in cyberspace. Blame his advanced age but that seems a meager excuse; many senior citizens -- my 80-year-old father comes to mind -- have embraced technology with a vengeance. No longer does Dad compose angry letters to large utility corporations in longhand, preferring to email his diatribes instead. At last count he had received 23 responses from his electric, phone and gas providers, all stating his comments were "very important to us."
"Now I oughta see some relief on my bills," he triumphantly huffed recently, unaware of a little invention called "auto reply" and another one called "auto delete."
It's a long shot but if this column reaches Rome, I have a few suggestions for Francis since I am continually tinkering with my own website. Your Holiness, I just want to ensure your site is not only informative, but cutting edge, proactive and profitable.
Yes most Holy Father, you read that last word correctly. Your site needs an online store. It's a much easier, and less intimidating money maker than passing the plate after Mass. And don't sell trinkets like towels or coffee mugs bearing your likeness; you'll soon find those throughout St. Peter's Square. Do what many famous rock bands and comedians are doing. Charge a small fee to download your live performances. How about five dollars for a regular Sunday Angelus and ten for special occasions like Easter?
Your site also needs a chat feature. Think of all those followers whose busy schedules preclude them from trekking to the Vatican on Wednesday mornings for your weekly audience? (Soccer moms come to mind). Here's your chance to communicate directly with them using just a keyboard! Give your chats a catchy name; "Perfectly Frank with Francis" is my suggestion.
One word of caution: Make sure church officials monitor all chat room comments. You're a global figure now, which means it will be 3 a.m. in some part of the world when your chats take place. The last thing you should read is a disgruntled Catholic typing, "Shoulda picked an Italian for the job."
Speaking of monitoring, any online presence must contain sophisticated security measures. I'm sure deviant hackers are already investigating ways to infiltrate your site. If nothing else, they could steal credit card information from your PayPal account.
I understand the church is concerned about a lack of young men desiring to enter the priesthood. So please include a "job opportunities" link on your site. Let potential candidates know when there's an opening and add a brief description of the responsibilities. Something simple like, "Wanted: Spiritual individual to preside over (INSERT NAME OF PARISH HERE) Must be humble, celibate and, by choice, economically disadvantaged. Free of scandal a definite plus."
You seem an amazingly fit individual for someone who has been living with just one lung since your teens. I have two lungs and sometimes feel short of breath after unloading groceries. Please share your exercise regimen on your site. Add video if possible. Also include a link to the World Lung Foundation.
Finally, expand your social network presence. A website and Twitter account are great starts but there is so much more. Forget about LinkedIn as you no longer need to consider advancing your career. But since you are fond of wading into crowds and shaking hands, please snap some photos with a digital camera.
In no time you will have an awesome Pinterest board.
COPYRIGHT © 2013 GREG SCHWEM DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.