'Pope podcasts' pave way for Portugal trip

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The Independent Online

Web-savvy Portuguese Catholics will get a chance to commune with Pope Benedict XVI for the week running up to his visit to the country this month by downloading prayer podcasts, the Church said Monday.

Billed as a "pioneer project", the podcasts feature prayer recordings in Portuguese, read by the pope himself and by leading Portuguese Roman Catholics, the country's bishops' conference said in a statement.

The first module will be available to download Tuesday from a website set up for the pope's four-day visit, www.passo-a-rezar.net, which means "Let's Get Praying."

The Church has also set up Facebook and Twitter sites devoted to the pope's trip, which will take him to Lisbon on May 11 and on to the shrine of Fatima in central Portugal on May 12-13, finishing in Porto in the north on May 14.

Almost nine in 10 Portuguese people describe themselves as Roman Catholics, although only 24 percent are practising believers according to a 2008 study by Lisbon University.