The three key Blogmeet organisers were Rouse, Mgr Paul Tighe, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communication, and Fr Ariel Beramendi, a Bolivian priest from the same Vatican department. They sent out the word that anyone with a blog could send an email with their blog address. After all the responses came in they decided on about 50 blogs that would ensure geographic and political diversity. The bloggers came from all over: Ireland, America, Canada, Slovenia and Slovakia were chosen, as were bloggers from across the political spectrum. There was a partial lottery: every blog was given a number and then the numbers were chosen randomly. It was a system that worked well for the 12th apostle, St Matthias, Rouse points out.
Rouse says the event was designed to deepen “awareness of how we are perceived – both bloggers and the Vatican”. It was Mgr Tighe who thought of bringing on board the Church’s social media experts as speakers: men such as Fr Roderick Vonhögen and Fr Federico Lombardi, as well as veteran bloggers such as Rocco Palmo and Elizabeth Scalia.
There were many challenges in organising the event. Journalists were constantly contacting Rouse, asking why the Blogmeet was happening. There was a notion abroad that the Vatican was holding the event in an attempt to be Big Brother. I mentioned to Rouse that when I was preparing for the Blogmeet, traditional Catholics asked me if the Vatican would “control conservative bloggers”. But he says that the meeting was never intended just for Catholic bloggers and that, yes, “some people thought it was about setting up official blogs that can be controlled, but that can’t happen and it won’t happen”.
This is from an article I wrote for The Catholic Herald for its August 5th Print Edition.