Pope Benedict XVI is to use his message on the Catholic Church's World Communications Day in May to tell priests that they should be blogging - using the Web and social media to spread their message.

The speech is entitled "The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in a Digital World:New Media at the Service of the Word", and reads: "as new technologies create deeper forms of relationship across greater distances, priests are called to respond pastorally by putting the media ever more effectively at the service of the Word".

Some churches have already begun to use the Web to connect more closely with their flock, but the Pope's message is believed to be the first time that a major religious leader has spoken so forcefully about the Web. However, the Pope also criticised the Web for soullessness.

"Priests present in the world of digital communications should be less notable for their media savvy than for their priestly heart, their closeness to Christ" he intends to say. "This will not only enliven their pastoral outreach, but also will give a 'soul' to the fabric of communications that makes up the web".