Part of my feeling at home in the back stacks of a library comes, I think, from my parents. Part of it comes from my interest in three things:
- That which exists within the universe
- That which exist beyond
- That which might exist
One of the places I visit fairly often is the Holy See's website, vatican.va.The last I checked, it's available in Deutsch, English, Español, Français, Italiano, Latine, and Português. I know: That's a rather narrow selection of languages. But the odds are that if what you speak at home isn't on the list, you understand at least one of that set. I've written about languages and the Internet in another blog.
Vatican Secret Archives: OnlineI suspect that someone with a wry sense of humor put "Vatican Secret Archives" on the Vatican's English-language home page. I think there's a dry sort of humor there, anyway.
I grew up in a virulently anti-Catholic part of America. My parents weren't Catholic, but they weren't anti-Catholic either. I think the nuns who were determined to not let my mother die as an infant had a hand in that. And that's another story.
The same folks who are convinced that the Pope is the Antichrist or at least in league with Satan, tend to be convinced that those nasty foreigners in the Vatican have all sorts of secret papers and stuff like that. (a little more about that in a footnote to a November 12, 2008, post)
It's true, sort of. There are a vast number of documents stored at the Vatican. Including one, from the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, titled "The Church and the Internet." A great number of the "secret" documents of the Church are available online: many in English translation.
The Church Online: We're There, and We're LearningAlthough some of the Holy See's efforts to engage people online have been criticized, I think that the Catholic Church is doing fairly well. From my point of view, it's impressive that this nearly-2,000-year-old institution has put so many of its documents online, and is making an effort to develop new procedures that will accurately and effectively present Catholic teachings in this rapidly-evolving online culture.
Put another way: There's more involved with setting up something like Pope2You.net (May 26, 2009), than there is in running a chat service for Lindsay Lohan fans.
It Started With Three ComputersI remember, back in 1997, when the Vatican's Internet Office went online with three servers: Gabriel, Michael and Raphael. I'd like to think that quite a few Catholics would recognize those as the names of archangels - but that's another topic.
There's a pretty good writeup of another milestone in the Vatican's online presence at CatholicTranscript.com: "Second Vatican Web Site Will Debut in the Fall" (September 12, 2005).
There's Virtually Nothing Like Being ThereWhat got me started was an item in today's news. The Apostolic Vatican Library is scheduled to reopen in the fall. It's a pretty big deal. The CNA article ends with this:
"...A week before the date chosen for this fall's inauguration, the Vatican librarian, Cardinal Raffaele Farina, will present the entirety of the project in a press conference. He will also highlight future plans for the facilities, including the next item of business: remodeling the Sistine Hall of the Vatican Library to be a reading room.And yes: the Vatican Library is online, too: vaticanlibrary.va. Which is a happy circumstance for me, since I'm unlikely to ever be on that side of the Atlantic.
"The first major initiative set to take place in the library this fall, according to the library's newsletter, is a conference in November to examine it as 'a place for research and as an institution at the service of scholarship.' "
In the news:
- "Apostolic Vatican Library to reopen this fall"
Catholic News Agency (July 26, 2010)