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Report Finds Catholics Active In Social Media, Room To Grow For Church's Online Presence

Over 80 percent of Catholics under 30 use social media

Nearly 3 million follow Catholic-themed blogs

Half of Catholics unaware of Church's online presence

BALTIMORE, Nov. 11, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Sixty-two percent of adult U.S. Catholics, representing an estimated 36.2 million people, have a profile on Facebook; 58 percent of Catholics age 30 and under share content such as pictures, articles and comments at least once a week on social media; and nearly a third of all surveyed said they would like their pastors and bishops to blog, according to a newly-released study by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University.

"Catholic New Media Use in the United States, 2012" surveyed 1,047 self-identified Catholics from September 10-18. The study was released November 11 at "An Encounter With Social Media: Bishops and Bloggers Dialogue," an event sponsored by the Department of Communications of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in conjunction with the U.S. bishops annual Fall General Assembly in Baltimore.

"The CARA report suggests many opportunities for the Church to engage with those who live on the 'Digital Continent,' as Pope Benedict XVI describes this new culture of communications," said Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Communications. "We can approach this as missionaries, eager to find God already present among the inhabitants of this world and to engage them, especially young people, in meaningful dialogue about morals and values in this new public square."

"In this context, the role of the laity becomes ever more central," said Archbishop Claudio Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, in a message to the bishops and bloggers gathered in Baltimore. "The 'voices' of the many Catholics who are present in blogs, social networks and other digital forums are reaching people who might not otherwise encounter the message of Jesus."

According to the CARA study, 37 percent of Catholics born before 1943 have a profile on Facebook, and that number climbs to 82 percent among Catholics born since 1982. Twenty-four percent of Catholics 30 and under use Twitter, 15 percent are on LinkedIn, and 13 percent use Instagram.

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