In his message for the 35th World Communications Day, on Sunday, 27 May 2001, Pope John Paul II reflected on "the positive capacities of the Internet to carry religious information and teaching beyond all barriers and frontiers. Such a wide audience would have been beyond the wildest imaginings of those who preached the Gospel before us."
As if to prove his point, more than six thousand people viewed 13,000 pages on the new AD2000 website during May alone (over 170,000 "hits"), and a number of these also took out new subscriptions to the magazine.
In fact, some 2,500 May readers stumbled across the www.ad2000.com.au website by accident (or providence). They had done web searches using Google and other search engines, and found AD2000 articles. The evangelical and apologetic value of the undertaking is obvious.
All the articles since December 1998 are already on the site, along with letters and book reviews. Searching the entire archive is very quick, and best results seem to come from looking for a single word, name or phrase. Subscription forms and a page of useful links are also available.
After each month's issue is mailed out, it is added to the website. Subscribers may type their subscriber reference to immediately read the latest issue online. Back issues are accessible to all visitors. You can phone or email AD2000 if you do not know your subscriber reference - or if you want to subscribe now to receive this benefit on top of getting the beautiful magazine!
We invite you to visit the site and add your email address to the AD2000 email list, to receive a short email message when new material is added.
The proliferation of Catholic websites over the past five years has enabled many formerly isolated individuals to deepen their faith, meet new Catholic friends, study Church teachings and often discover new apostolates in evangelisation and apologetics. Some excellent sites are listed on the links page of AD2000 online, and these point to many others.
Happily, orthodoxy among Catholic sites seems now to far outweigh modernism. Books that sell today deal with personal holiness, prayer, saints' lives, the Eucharist, Our Lady and conversion stories - despite the oddball desire of some well-known publishers to spend their advertising budgets pushing faded pop religion that was already dull by the 1970s.
At a conference in Vienna for journalists and communicators on 7 June 2001, the head of the Pontifical Council for Social Communication, Archbishop John P. Foley, said that the Internet offered great potential for evangelisation. "The Internet," he said, "offers the Church the opportunity to make available to everyone in the world, with access to the Internet, the saving message of Jesus Christ."
In the case of more restrictive societies, he continued, "the Internet can bring to those engaged in a spiritual search or even to those who are merely curious, an opportunity for information and inspiration to which they otherwise would not have access".
Francis Young is a Sydney Internet specialist who was responsible for setting up the 'AD2000' website.