Catholic bishops urge the faithful to cast digital nets

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VATICAN CITY--The Vatican's Bishops Council is calling on Catholic congregations worldwide to plug into the Internet to become fishers of men in cyberspace.

"I don't know if Jesus was referring to the Internet when he told his disciples to throw out their nets, but it is clear that today that includes electronic nets," says Bishop Claudo Giuliodori, the Council spokesman.

The Bishop adds that the Internet represents "an extraordinary opportunity" for the Roman Catholic Church to bring its message to nonbelievers, and represents a unique opportunity for the church to get in contact with every person in the world in real time.

The Council didn't set specific guidelines or strategies for Internet use by congregations, only stressing that the medium represented an important tool to reach some nonbelievers who might not otherwise be reached.

A spokesman for the Vatican declined to elaborate on the Church's Internet strategy.

The Holy See has maintained a Web page since 1996.

Copyright March 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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