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.

About that cyber attack…

The website of the Vatican was brought down briefly yesterday. A loose group of leftist/anarchist hackers who call themselves ‘Anonymous’ launched a DDoS attack on the servers of Vatican.va for wholly unoriginal reasons: The Church oppresses women, opposes contraception, abortion and euthanasia, and is generally outdated. But it was not an attack against Christians. No, sir.

While annoying and irritating, this is in fact no different from other expressions of anti-religious/anti-Christian/anti-establishment ignorance. The perpetrators hide behind relative anonymity and their reasoning is a cobbled-together mess of ancient clichés, no different from what many others write in articles, newspapers and blogs, or proclaim in tv programs.

Christianity no longer overlaps culture and society, but not because the faith has changed. As modern society increasingly forgets about her Christian roots and civilised means of debate, politics and change, this will happen more and more.

The faith is not subject to the winds of the times. We must remember that, and try likewise to remain unruffled as those winds blow harder. Does that mean sitting back and doing nothing? No. When someone attacks us unjustly, we should correct them, for their and our wellbeing. Actions have consequences. When we do something, we must be aware of those consequences. That goes for us, but also for Anonymous. Is that revenge? Not if we correct in love and out of concern for our opponents wellbeing.

Father Z has a Litany for the conversion of Internet thugs.

Stats for August 2011

Despite my two-week absence from the blogosphere, the past month managed to see 3,779 page views. It’s the lowest total since December, sure, but it goes to show that I can be away from the blog for a while without numbers plummeting completely into the single digits. In the top 10 of most popular posts we’ll see which topics are responsible for the continuing interest.

Another high point this month was the crossing of the 100,000 threshold. In fact, on the same day that I returned from Spain, 23 August, the 100,000th visitor since January 2010 popped by. It’s only numbers, but it still makes me pleased.

One to the top 10!

1: A priest never walks alone 72
2: Het probleem Medjugorje 61
3: Calling in the bishop 38
4: Blog shutting down. Temporarily, that is & Seculiere deskundigen willen dat de paus zijn beleid aanpast. Hoe kunnen we uitleggen dat hij dat niet kan? 27
5: Double duty: two vicars general for Groningen-Leeuwarden & WYD destinations – Zaragoza & Goodbye, we’ll keep in touch (via social media) 26
6: No refusal allowed for civil servants in Groningen 25
7: Two years in the making, a new archbishop for Luxembourg 24
8: World Youth Days on TV, and my personal blogging plans & Oddie continues where Dolan stopped & The departure begins… 23
9: Congratulations to a Philippine bishop 20
10: Archbishop Dolan explains the Vatican 19

Oddie continues where Dolan stopped

Published on the Translations page yesterday, a translation of this article by William Oddie of the Catholic Herald. I made the translation on the request of Ronald Marks, co-author of Marks & Marks Blogspot.

Odie takes Archbishop Dolan’s recent blog post on the ‘policies’ of the Vatican as a starting point and explores the issue further. He finds that there is an important question that Catholics have yet barely begun to ask themselves: are we able to bridge the gap of understanding between us and the secular world? An important issue, not least in the Netherlands.

Archbishop Dolan explains the Vatican

In a recent blog post, Archbishop Timothy Dolan asks us to consider who we are blaming for the things we don’t like in the Church. Too often, ‘the Vatican’ is presented as issuing big bad doctrines and displaying an unwillingness to adapt to the times. The archbishop of New York explains how it really works.

I would think this is good summer reading for disobedient priests, subjective journalists and all others who are somehow active in the Church, but really seem to have no clue what that Church is.

Also available is my translation.

Stats for June 2011

The past month was a bit less spectacular then previous months, and that is reflected in the number of visitors. 4,344 visits were made in June, lower than the previous two months. The total number of visitors since the start of my blog is creeping closer to 100,000, standing now at 93,105.

Here is the top 10 of most popular posts. A varied bunch.

1. Bishop De Kesel on Vaticanum II – a bit defeatist? 141
2. Brick minus brick in Groningen 106
3. On the occasion of 60 years of priesthood, a spiritual bouquet for the pope 74
4: Belgian dean welcomes Dutch-trained priests 66
5. Congratulations to a Philippine bishop 62
6. Het probleem Medjugorje 47
7. The class of 2011 37
8. Ascension Day, Pallium day 35
9. Vatican website in the makeover 33
10. Pope to visit the Croatian families this weekend 31

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.

The Vatican Blogmeet: impressions from the outside

Yesterday’s Vatican blogmeet – the second major event (from a blogger’s point of view) in as many days – seems to have been a success. I was unable to follow the live feed provided by SQPN’s Fr. Roderick, but my Twitter timeline was swamped with tweets hashtagged #vbm11 (for Vatican Blogmeet 2011).

From that flood of information (evidence, with the coverage of Sunday’s beatification and the death of Osama bin Laden that Twitter is a serious contender for providing rapid news as it happens) I gather that there have been several important elements to the whole bloggers’ meeting.

One of them is the very welcome positive attitude from Church officials towards the blogging community. Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican press chief, spoke about the importance of service over ego when blogging, but also indicated that the Vatican is listening. He himself spends some time every morning readings several blogs, to prepare for what the day may bring. He also expressed gratefulness to Catholic bloggers who sprung into action when the regular media distorts Church developments. An example is the hubbub around Pope Benedict’s perceived permittance of the use of condoms. Before the Vatican could come with clarifications, Catholic bloggers made sure to correct the media reports and explain what the Holy Father had really said.

Related to that, Thomas Peters (the American Papist) asked why blogs could not be included among the Vatican’s accredited media, so that certain selected bloggers could receive advance copies of important documents and publications, just like newspapers and other media do now. A very valid question, I would think.

The Vatican itself also seems to be moving forward in social media. An advance view of a new news site (www. news.va) triggered much positive comments. I don’t know when that is supposed to be up and running, but a new Vatican news website would be very welcome.

The results of this first blogmeet (I say ‘first’, because I get the impression that several participants would like to see this become an annual event) will become more clear over the course of the coming weeks and months. It will be interesting to see the developments on both sides; will the sense of community in the blogosphere increase in a spirit of service, and will the Vatican, through the Pontifical Councils for Culture and Social Communications make more and more effective use of this enormous resource? And how will the latter take shape? The measure of involvement of local bishops’ conferences and Church communities is still up in the air.

Fr. Roderick Vonhögen participated in the first panel and spoke of how he, as a simple parish priest from the Netherlands, reaches an audience of thousands through social media.
Rocco Palmo moderated the first panel
Father Federico Lombardi spoke about the attitudes of Catholic bloggers during the second panel: service should prevail over ego.

Photo credits: intermirifica.net

Pictures say more

… than a thousands words, they say. So with that in mind I won’t add many words to the reports of yesterday’s beatification of Blessed Pope John Paul II. Instead, here are 20 photos which I liked:

[But if there is need of words, here is my translation of Pope Benedict XVI’s homily.]

Thousands of pilgrims gather on St. Peter's Square and the streets leading to it.
The glass reliquary shaped like intertwining olive branches and containing a vial of blood of the new blessed.
Another view of the crowds on the square
Some of the many priests attending the Mass in choir, with the statue of St. Peter in the foreground
The crowds don't all fit within the borders of the world's smallest state
Pope Benedict XVI greets President Bronislaw Komorowski of Poland at the end of the ceremonies.
Pope Benedict XVI prays in front of the coffin of Blessed John Paul II
Pope Benedict XVI kisses the reliquary containing a relic of the new blessed
Four photos of the revealing of the photo of Blessed John Paul II, overlooking St. Peter's Square
Young pilgrims from Germany
Sister Tobiana, who took care of Blessed John Paul II in the final days of his life, touches his coffin
Watching from the Circus Maximus, a Polish pilgrim cries during the beatification
With Polish flags and banners behind him, Pope Benedict XVI arrives just before Mass
Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, for many years the personal secretary of Blessed John Paul II
Sister Marie Simone-Pierre, whose miraculous cure from Parkinson's paved the way to the beatification
Deo gratias!
In the early hours of the morning, many pilgrims are still dozing
Throughout the night before the beatification, as thousands and pilgrims prayed and kept watch, a candle burned in the window of Pope Benedict XVI's apartments
A religious sister peers from underneath one of the many pictures of Blessed John Paul II present on the square
Pope Benedict XVI faces his predecessor in pictorial form

Photo credits:
[1] Elisabetta Villa/Getty Images
[2] [4] Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images
[3] [10] [11] [16] Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images
[5] AP Photo/Massimo Sestini, Polizia di Stato
[6] Pool L’Osservatore Romano Vatican-Pool/Getty Images
[7] REUTERS/Ettore Ferrari/Pool
[8] AP Photo/L’Osservatore Romano
[9] [12] Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images
[13] REUTERS/Max Rossi
[14] Giuseppe Cacace/AFP/Getty Images
[15] [20] AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito
[17] [18] AP Photo/Andrew Medichini
[19] AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca

A Rome “Reformation Day”

Rocco Palmo reports on yesterday’s demonstration/vigil of some 75 victims of sexual abuse at the Vatican. Go there to read about what happened at the event that was expressly supposed not be a protest, but which featured placards and cries of accusation nonetheless.

Vatican press head Fr. Federico Lombardi met with the protesters and addressed them with some words which are also featured at the Loggia above. My translation of this address is available here and via the ‘Translations’ tab above.

Fr. Lombardi meets with representatives from the abuse victims