The official Vatican web site (http://www.vatican.va/) will be of value
to anyone interested in the Vatican or Roman Catholicism, whether
Catholic or not. The site is published in German, English,
Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese, although not all features are
available in every language. Moreover, all information is usually
available first in Italian, particularly news; there is a delay while
it is translated.
In some ways, the Vatican site is much like any other organisation’s
web site. It contains maps for visitors. Hours of operation
and regulations for admission are available for the Secret Archives,
Library, and Museum. Information is available on the various
offices at the Vatican – the councils, commissions, synods,
congregations, tribunals, and even the Swiss Guard.
In other ways, the site is quite special. Only on the Vatican
site, one feels, would one find documents such as the Bible, Catechism
of the Catholic Church, Code of Canon Law, and documents of the Second
Vatican Council in the archives. They are still in effect, but
they are comparatively old. Each of these documents is available
in several languages and is broken down into usable parts for easy
reading or study and for printing.
Another rather wonderful feature of the site is the opportunity to take
a virtual tour of the art treasures in the Vatican Museum, some of
which date back five hundred years. It is unfortunate that the
limitations of internet technology make it impossible to view the
pictures in true colour.
Obviously, there is considerable information on the current Pope, not
just his biography, but also the content of speeches, homilies,
letters, and messages, as well as his itinerary. Documents
written by previous Popes, particularly Pope John Paul II are also
available on the site; earlier Popes, of course, pre-date the internet
so, if there are plans to publish those documents on line, it will take
The Vatican web site is constantly updated to provide content relevant
to the current liturgical season. The news service provides live
broadcasts – mostly in Italian – and there are frequent news
releases. Important events, such as World Youth Day, have their
own special pages.
Although this web site is huge – and growing daily – it is nevertheless
easy to navigate. The only real problem is one of language, which
is to be expected considering the nature of the institution. The
graphic design of the site matches the institution perfectly, reminding
the user that the Church is two thousand years old. The entire site is a
pleasure to look at and use.