Vatican website to have Arabic and Russian versions

The need to use language "that is comprehensible to today's internet users", is prompting the initiative, Monsignor Lucio Adrian Ruiz who manages the site, told the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano.

The site: currently consists of some half-a-million pages with sections in eight languages: Latin, Italian, English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, German and Chinese.

"First of all it must be made clear that it will be a long process (to update the site). But it has to be done," Ruiz said.

The site was first launched in 1995 with a Christmas message by the then pontiff, John Paul II.

It currently hosts several sections, including archive material, statements and publications from the Holy See's press office - such as the daily bulletin.

There is also an area dedicated to Pope Benedict XVI including speeches, details of his travels and other activities.

Plans include expanding the section on all the 265th popes in history, with online versions of documents and other materials, Ruiz said.

A video archive collecting images of Benedict's pontificate which began in 2005, is also in the pipeline.

The Vatican site currently receives an average of some three million "hits" a day.
However, some of these may be multiple attempts to reach the site from the same source so a new statistical system will be introduced to enable the Holy See to assess how many people actually visit the site, Ruiz explained.

The most hits originate from computers in the US, followed by Italy, Spain, Germany, Brazil, South Korea, Mexico, Canada, France and China, he added.

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