The Catholic Church in Germany hopes to turn 50 new priests into social media influencers by offering a two-day "smart camp". File Picture: Yara Nardi/Reuters

Cologne - The Catholic Church in Germany hopes to turn 50 new priests into social media influencers by offering a two-day "smart camp" starting on Wednesday in Cologne.

The younger generation could not be influenced from the pulpit alone, the archdiocese of Cologne said. Social media had major potential for improving the church's work in the community.

As a result, priests will be given training in the use of Instagram, Youtube and writing blogs. They will also be educated on risks in the digital world, such as hacking and cybermobbing. The idea is to help them stand by their parishes, the largest German diocese said.

Andreas Puettmann, a political scientist and religion expert, said it was right that the church should expand its methods of communication, but said priests should still be cautious about how they approach social media and consider whether they really have time to engage properly, especially given the raw tone of many online debates.

"I think that priests as social media influencers should be the exception rather than the rule," Puettmann said.

DPA