The Vatican website re”design”

So the vatican redesigned its website. Reshuffled it, more likely.

vatican website

Still, at least they got rid of the unnecessary “choose your language” page which would then lead you to the homepage in your language of choice.

But, contrary to appearance, I am not bothered by how the website looks. It has a certain charm, and while intuition is not enough to find what you are looking for, it is there (and if it isn’t, there are countless websites which do – among them the Vatican’s own News.va, the website of Vatican Radio, Zenit, and so on).

My only wish would be proper websites for the Curial departments, with easy access to what they publish.

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On notice – the press office to communicators

bloggingAn important communique from the Holy See press office yesterday, not least for us bloggers and others active in social media who regularly share and comment on what the Pope does or says.

FALSE STATEMENTS ATTRIBUTED TO POPE FRANCIS

Dear friends, we have been notified by many readers that there are stories currently circulating all over the Internet spreading statements by Pope Francis with regard to a number of issues, concerning the Bible’s content, the relations between religions, the renewal of the Church’s doctrine, and even the calling of an alleged “Third Vatican Council”, which are FALSE. These statements were spread by unknown sources. Therefore, we would like to alert all readers to be careful and not to trust too soon news about the Pope that are not from the Vatican. There are also many unidentified trolls on social networks that try to put false information in circulation, taking advantage of the fact that it is easy to “throw the stone and hide the hand”. Many are also not aware that ALL FACEBOOK PROFILES OF POPE FRANCIS/JORGE MARIA [sic] BERGOGLIO ARE NOT OFFICIAL PAGES AND THEY HAVE NOT BEEN AUTHORIZED TO OFFICIALLY REPRESENT THE POPE, THEREFORE THEY SHOULD CLEARLY STATE THEY ARE JUST ‘FAN PAGES’.  We encourage all readers to check the official Vatican media sources for further confirmation of Pope Francis’ statements, or even to check what exactly he said with reference to specific issues.  IF THE STATEMENTS ATTRIBUTED TO THE POPE BY ANY MEDIA AGENCY DO NOT APPEAR IN THE OFFICIAL MEDIA SOURCES OF THE VATICAN, IT MEANS THAT THE INFORMATION THEY REPORT IS NOT TRUE. Below is a list of the official Vatican media which you should use as valid reference to be sure that any reported statement referred to the Pope is true:

– News.va: a news aggregator portal, it reports the news and information from all the Vatican media in one website, available in five languages: www.news.va News.va also has a Facebook page: www.facebook.com/news.va

– L’Osservatore Romano (newspaper): www.osservatoreromano.va

– Vatican Radio: www.radiovaticana.va

– VIS (Vatican Information Service): www.vis.va

– Holy See Press Office: www.vaticanstate.va/content/vaticanstate/en/altre-istituzioni/sala-stampa-santa-sede.html

– Centro Televisivo Vaticano (Vatican Television Center): www.ctv.va  or www.vatican.va/news_services/television/

– Vatican.va: the official website of the Holy See, where you can find the full text of all speeches, homilies and Apostolic documents by the Pope: www.vatican.va

– PopeApp: the official app for smartphones dedicated to the Pope (Copyright News.va)

– @Pontifex: the official Twitter profile of the Pope.

The only official Facebook profiles representing the Holy Father and the Vatican are those from News.va and the Vatican media (see the above list of Vatican media). We would like to thank you all for your kind attention as well as for your notifications and suggestions. Please do share this information as much as possible with your contacts! Thank you very much!

First of all, it’s like I have said several times: if you want to know what the Pope said about something, read or listen to what he said. While there are many media outlets who do a good job in reporting on papal issues, there are also many who do not, either out of ignorance or malicious intent.

Secondly, this statement can be read as a duty for us Catholic bloggers and writers. It does not mean we can’t write about the Pope anymore, or discuss what he has said and what it means. It does mean that we must be as accurate as we can. Accuracy is a service to ourselves and our readers. We must first and foremost reflect the truth before giving our own interpretation or opinion.

Msgr. Tighe opens the CNMC – an inside look at the Holy See’s social media efforts

Listen to Msgr. Paul Tighe’s excellent and entertaining keynote address at the Catholic New Media Conference taking place in Boston this weekend.

paul tighe cnmc

It offers an interesting glimpse behind the scenes of the Holy See’s new media endeavours, as well as the way in how they want to relate to and work with us Catholic bloggers and other users of social media (from the Pope down to the average joe sharing his thoughts with the wider world via the Internet).

Msgr. Paul Tighe is the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and as such he has been involved with the creation of the papal Twitter account, the News.va website, the Pope app, and other social media efforts.

Find more reports, blogs, podcasts and other information about the CNMC at SQPN.com.

Photo credit: George Martell – Pilot New Media Office, © Archdiocese of Boston 2013

On Twitter: out with the fake, in with the real?

Yesterday we learned that the long-promised official papal Twitter account – that is, an account used, or at least sanctioned by the pope – will become reality before the year is out. Pope Benedict XVI sent out a first tweet last year when he launched News.va, but he used the Vatican news account @news_va_en instead of a personal one. That is said to change within the coming two months, as a personal account will be created for the Holy Father, who will not be tweeting himself, though. But, we are told, he will approve every tweet being sent.

But what about the fake popes on Twitter? There are a fair number of those, using the name of Pope Benedict or some variation thereon. Some are sarcastic, humorous or vindictive, but more than one also offer serious Catholic news and opinion.

The Holy See has obviously also noticed all these and has said that it hopes that the launch of the official papal account will cause all the fake popes to “give up when they see the official site is up”, an unnamed official said, as CNS reports. There’s a problem there.

While Twitter has, as part of its policy, the option to block accounts that impersonate others, it also allows for harmless satire. An example is @Queen_UK, a satirical impersonation of the UK’s Queen Elizabeth II. So similar accounts about or obviously pretending to be a humourous alter ego of the Holy Father would be safe.

Then there are the accounts using the pope’s name which offer serious news and opinion. Instead of cancelling these, I think a better solution would be to allow them to continue to offer their useful contributions, but perhaps under another name. Changing a username on Twitter is a fairly simple procedure and allows one to keep one’s followers.

Another important issue to consider is the content of the papal tweets. If the Vatican wants others to change something about other users on Twitter, it has to offer something similar. As it seems now, Pope Benedict will not be an avid Twitter user himself (and who can blame him, really?), but the few tweets we may expect on short notice will relate to what he says in audiences and other official functions. No personal tweets about what was served at the papal table or what the weather was like at Castel Gandolfo, then. Will the pope’s presence on Twitter make a huge impact as far as the content of tweets is concerned? Likely not, although the catechesis that Pope Benedict regularly offers at his Wednesday audiences certainly deserves a wider audience, for example. But it will not replace the contributions of others, who now tweet under the pope’s name. And that is again a reason to not ban these accounts, but at most ask them to change their name, so to avoid confusion.

Holy Father receives new Dutch ambassador to Holy See

On Friday, His Excellency Joseph Weterings, the new Dutch ambassador to the Holy See, presented his letters of credence to Pope Benedict XVI, officially starting his mission as the highest Dutch diplomat at the heartland of Catholic Christianity. The Holy Father delivered a short address, included in this news report.

Since occasions on which the pope addresses the Dutch people, if through the channels of diplomacy and government, are pretty rare, I thought it good to include a Dutch translation.

Diplomatic language is necessarily careful, so very direct and resounding words can’t be expected, but it should be clear that modern Dutch society is not one that Catholics should automatically feel at home in. But, be clearly linking this address to the important one he gave at the German Bundestag, Pope Benedict XVI indicates that what he told politicians there, is just as valid for politicians here.

An important part of the address is the conclusion (emphasis mine):

“While your nation has long championed the freedom of individuals to make their own choices, nevertheless, those choices by which people inflict harm on themselves or others must be discouraged, for the good of individuals and society as a whole. Catholic social teaching, as you know, places great emphasis on the common good, as well as the integral good of individuals, and care is always needed to discern whether perceived rights are truly in accordance with those natural principles of which I spoke earlier.”

Rome Reports has a short video item:

All the news in one place

Keep an eye out today for the much-anticipated launch of the new Vatican news site. From the sneak preview that came online last week, it would seem that News.va combines most of the (social) media – l’Osservatore Romano, Vatican Radio, video streams and recordings, Flickr, the Vatican Information Service, and so on – used by the Vatican into one place. Pope Benedict XVI will officially open the website, which was first heralded at the Vatican blogmeet in May, tomorrow.

Vatican website in the makeover

Part of the new homepage of vatican.va

One of the oldest virtually unchanged websites out there is finally getting a makeover, and although it’s happening step by step in conjunction with the release of a new news site, the changes on the Vatican website do look promising.

The changes have been expected since about a year ago, and when the forthcoming release of news.va, a comprehensive and official news site of the Holy See, was announced at the recent Vatican blogmeet, it was expected to be arriving any day now. But, as the old adage goes, the Church thinks in centuries, so new developments often take a bit longer than needed. But the changes are becoming visible now.

I like the new layout of the homepage. The main focus is the Holy Father and his various publications; as a blogger, I frequently make use of those, so their prominent accessibility is a definite plus. The pages about the various Curial departments and news outlets are also easily found, as is a link to the aforementioned news.va at the top right. The focus column at the left, then, features information on several high-profile topics: the pope’s pastoral visits and, at this time, information about the abuse crisis.

As far as I have found, no other pages have been released in a new layout, but I expect that is only a matter of time. Improved accessibility is already a good development.