Page last updated at 10:40 GMT, Monday, 1 August 2005 11:40 UK

Catholic podcast makes waves

By Colin Grant
BBC Go Digital producer

If you have ever suspected that Batman might be a Catholic whose moral dilemmas are a hangover from his days as an altar boy, then you might like to explore the latest podcast of Father Roderick Vonhogen.

Father Roderick Vonhogen in Rome
Father Roderick's podcast has made waves in Rome
He is better known by his net alter ego,

Father Roderick is a Catholic priest whose revolutionary ideas about how to maximise the power of the spoken word are being listened to very closely by the Vatican.

The 30-something priest, a self-confessed lover of new technologies, has certainly followed the trajectory of most individual podcasters, moving from blogging to producing audio.

In fact, he is so much of a pragmatic geek that Go Digital interviewed him using Skype's Voice over IP service.

Presenter Gareth Mitchell duly dialled up his free internet Skype account. By putting on headphones and by plugging a microphone into the back of his computer, Father Roderick could listen to and answer Gareth's questions.

We attached a minidisk to Gareth's computer and, hey presto! Listen to the result on the latest edition of Go Digital.

Creating a podcast is not more complicated than that. Just download podcasting software, stir in a witty audio commentary and welcome to

No preaching

The idea for the podcast came when the late John Paul II was lying in state.

Catholic Insider logo
The Catholic Insider logo mimics Apple's iPod adverts
Father Roderick rushed to Rome to pay his respects. He also began to podcast, offering up his unique insights into the working of the Vatican.

He has continued non-stop ever since.

Though most of those clicking onto are not Catholic, or even Christian, Father Roderick struggles to contain his excitement that his 500 parishioners in the Archdiocese of Utrecht in the Netherlands are now regularly joined by the 15,000 punters listening to him via the internet.

The good priest is keen to point out that his is not a "Godcast", part of the fast growing world of religious and inspirational podcasts. The site,, lists about 3,000 of them.

There is no preaching from the pulpit in CatholicInsider. It is more like a modern culture show where works like Harry Potter are deconstructed in amusing ways, with dissertations on witchcraft and magic.

Nonetheless, the Vatican has been monitoring his success and lately sought his advice in creating a podcast for Vatican radio.

As far as his own site is concerned, the father plans to add video images and whatever new technology comes along in the future, he will be at the head of the queue.

This week:
Analysing climate change data, the robotic arm to detect breast lumps and the Catholic podcast taking on Harry Potter, Batman and magic
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