Pope Benedict XVI Monday gave his blessing to social networking, urging Catholic Internet users to adopt a respectful Christian netiquette when spreading the Gospel online.

The pope said new technologies were creating unprecedented opportunities for establishing relationships and building fellowship but warned against creating false online profiles out of vanity or diluting the Christian message to achieve popularity.

The 83-year-old pontiff, who has little direct personal experience with the Internet and writes with a pen in spidery longhand, issued his guidelines in a document entitled “Truth, proclamation and authenticity of life in the digital age,” published to mark the Vatican’s 45th World Day of Social Communications.

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