.- The Vatican's communications department is streamlining its presence on the Internet with a news portal that gathers its media coverage in one place.
Pontifical Council for Social Communications president Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli announced updated plans for the new site during his department's annual meeting this week. He has referred to the project several times in the last six months during Vatican press conferences.
The multimedia portal, he said, will offer news from the Vatican's newspaper, Vatican Radio and the missionary news agency Fides on a single site. According to a report in the March 2 edition of the Vatican's L'Osservatore Romano paper, the portal will be launched by Easter (April 24) in English and Italian. A handful of other languages will follow.
L'Osservatore Romano reported that the portal is not the only new venture being pursued by the council. In 2010 they updated their own www.pccs.va website to provide greater visibility to news items from the Vatican and the Universal Church.
In an effort to reach a wider audience, the council recently brought an Arabic-speaking priest onto its staff. Archbishop Celli called the acquisition of an Arabic speaker particularly important as the Vatican seeks to understand what is happening in the Middle East and North Africa and how it affects the Church.
The announcements by Archbishop Celli were made during the council's annual full assembly, which is taking place between Feb. 28 and March 3. This year's sessions are focused on the study of new “languages” being used in communications and how the Church can utilize those in evangelization efforts.
Among other projects being developed are a continental news agency for Africa, a forum for debate on the theology of communications, and a three-year formation course for media personnel for the Church in Cuba.
Fr. Franco Lever, Dean of the Pontifical Salesian University's social communications program, told participants that new forms of media must be used to transmit the Christian message of living as God's family in the footsteps of Jesus.
To do so, he said, “no medium available today must be left out.”