The Holy See has tried using new tools that allow it to stay familiar with technologies that it associates with suspect forms of individual liberation
As part of an ongoing foray into digital media, the Vatican will unveil an online portal for papal news and information. The website, hosted at news.va, is expected to launch on Wednesday, June 29.
The portal, which will aggregate information from the Vatican's various print, online, radio and television media into a single, centralized destination for all things papal, will be the most extensive online venture that the Vatican has undertaken yet, bristling with multimedia goodies and social media integration. According to the Huffington Post's Nicole Winfield, that the portal will be outfitted for live-streaming of papal events, audio feeds from Vatican Radio, photographs from L'Osservatore Romano and printed texts of papal homilies, statements and speeches. Pope Benedict has reportedly been following the development of the portal.
Part of the shift is purely organizational: the Vatican's massive bureaucracy has made communication between the papal court and regular parishioners opaque at best, which has caused numerous communications headaches in the past several years
Monsignor Claudio Maria Celli, who heads the Vatican office that developed the portal and will maintain it, said Benedict may put the site online himself with a click from the Apostolic Palace.
"This is a new way of communicating," Celli said during a preview of the site at the offices of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.
It's the latest effort by the Vatican to bring its evangelizing message to a greater, Internet-savvy audience and follows its forays into Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. It's also a significant step for the 84-year-old Benedict, who has been bedeviled by communications woes during much of his six-year papacy, much of it the fault of a large Vatican bureaucracy that doesn't always communicate well internally.
There was his 2005 speech about Islam and violence, his recent comments about condoms and HIV that required no less than three official Vatican clarifications, and his rehabilitation of a Holocaust-denying bishop, among others.
Reports of the Vatican's site, like past news on its iPhone app and gradual forays into user engagement on Facebook and YouTube, are predictably laden with the usual tropes: a casual amazement that an ancient institution could suddenly decide to abandon its supposedly conservative Luddism and adopt new technology. The usual indicators are all there, from the Onion-esq headlines ("Vatican Launches Second Website in Just 2,000 Years") to the juxtaposition of the Vatican with "the modern world" in the Agence France-Presse's release.