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Saturday, August 15, 1998 Published at 12:31 GMT 13:31 UK


The Pope @ The Vatican

Pope John Paul II this weekend saying his first mass to be simultaneously broadcast on the Internet

The Pope has launched his live appearances on the Internet to conduct his masses, services and famous weekly blessings.

On Saturday he inaugurated the cyber-service with a celebration of the Feast of the Assumption before a large crowd in Rome's St Peter's Square.

The Pope - who makes his live broadcasts in audio and video - will follow up with the Holy Father's Angelus prayer on Sundays, along with his weekly blessing and mass, as well as his general audience on Wednesdays.

[ image: Available online: The Pope blesses those present for his first cyber-mass]
Available online: The Pope blesses those present for his first cyber-mass
Computer users can visit a virtual version of St Peter's Square and see the Pope as he carries out religious ceremonies. Information about his travels will also be posted on the site.

The office of the Holy See, the Vatican television service and Vatican Radio have been working on the project with with the software company RealNetworks.

The firm produces the most commonly used software for watching and listening to sound and video over the Internet.

The Vatican says its use of the Internet is a sign of the Catholic church's efforts to boost its presence in the world by using modern methods of communication to spread information about the papacy.

In March, the church held a major conference on evangelising over the Internet and the social effects of the World Wide Web.

The Vatican's own website was revamped last year, and texts by the Pope - such as his lengthy encyclicals - are on it.

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