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Saturday, February 27, 1999 Published at 16:28 GMT


Vatican turns high-tech for 2000

Nuns venturing into cyberspace to spread the word

The Vatican is turning to technology to stop the anticipated influx of 30 million visitors for Christianity's 2000 Jubilee becoming a holy mess.

Pilgrims will be offered advice through a Website, a database and one item which the Vatican says will be indispensable - a computerised Pilgrim Card.

The aim of the credit card-sized device is to allow the faithful to set aside worries about language differences, reservations and bus routes and concentrate on the spiritual.

"The pilgrim can live in the spiritual moment in a serene and sure manner, without running the risk of finding himself tossed around by the thousand situations," said Archbishop Crescenzio Sepe.

'Convenient' card

Between 12 and 13 million cards costing between $5 and $28 will be on sale. Pilgrims will be able to use the cards to for a variety of services, such as transport, phone calls, food and insurance.

[ image: Pope: Reaching out to the faithful]
Pope: Reaching out to the faithful
Using the card will assure the faithful a spot in papal audiences, church services or other events in the year-long calendar of celebrations for the start of Christianity's third millennium.

But the organisers stress that you will not have to have a card to get into any of the church events.

A microchip on the card will also carry any key health data of the bearer. Other incentives include free use of the underground and buses, cut rates for phone calls and discounts throughout the jubilee year.

Working the Web

A multilingual Internet site has been set up to spread the word about the Vatican's millennium events.

The Web site offers jubilee information in eight languages - Italian, French, English, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Polish and Latin. It expected to add Russian, Chinese and Arabic.

"Working in the Internet in preparation for the jubilee is very beautiful. We feel that we are not only missionaries of the media but also modern missionaries of the Internet," said Sister Rosalyn.

The site will also provide RealAudio content of services so that you can pray with the Pope.

"We can 'click' on our father," said Sister Evelyn as she showed the Website to journalists, "And we can pray together with our father."

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