If you’re eager, but not able, to make a personal pilgrimage to Rome this week — as millions are apparently doing, according to news reports — to bear witness to the upcoming funeral of Pope John Paul II and other historic events, there’s always the ‘Papacy in Cyberspace.’ The most recent Pope, who died last week after a 26-year reign at the helm of the Catholic Church, was known among other things for using a laptop computer and the Internet to communicate with his world-wide flock and his Vatican staff. According to the BBC, ‘Establishing a ‘virtual papacy,’ the Pope issued letters, speeches, personal reflections and sermons through the Vatican website, which launched in 1995.’
The Vatican News Services, one component of The Holy See’s online presence, provides a wealth of information about the Vatican, Pope John Paul II and his predecessors, and about the upcoming gathering of cardinals charged with selecting a new Pope in the coming weeks.
The news services include the daily Vatican-based newspaper ‘L’Osservatore Romano,’ which is available in multiple languages — including a weekly English version — most posted for download in PDF. The March 30, 2005 issue [PDF: 120kb] includes coverage of the recent celebration of Holy Mass in St. Peter’s Square.
The Vatican apparently sees the value of the April 2, 2005 issue of ‘L’Osservatore Romano’ — announcing the death of Pope John Paul II — as a collector’s item, offering it for sale at a nominal cost rather than as a free PDF download.