Electronic Resources Provide Papal Papers, Positions, Proselytizings to Parishioners

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

(Bethesda, MD — September 22, 2015) – Pope Francis’ itinerary during his first visit to the United States – which will take him to Washington, New York, and Philadelphia – is jam-packed.

His schedule includes:

  • an address to a joint session of Congress
  • Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
  • a speech at the United Nations
  • services at New York’s September 11 Memorial
  • Mass at Madison Square Garden
  • a visit to Independence Hall
  • a visit to the National Library of Medicine

The last item on the agenda is the one drawing the most scrutiny – and the most questions. The main reason for the visit to the National Library of Medicine (NLM) is to thank staff for their efforts in setting up a papal information resource 10 years ago.

The idea for such a resource began soon after the passing of Pope John Paul II on April 2, 2005. The world needed a resource to help compile and access his papers, and NLM answered the call. In the vein of AIDSLINE, AVLINE, BIOETHICSLINE, CATLINE, DIRLINE, HISTLINE, MEDLINE, OLDMEDLINE, POPLINE, SDILINE, SERLINE, SPACELINE, and TOXLINE, a new papal-friendly database was developed.



POPELINE, a database of journal articles about the papacy, ranging in topic from the theological to the popular, made its debut with over 10,000 citations on John Paul II alone. Ten years later, that number is closer to 50,000 citations, and there are another 10,000 from his successor, Benedict XVI, and just under 1,000 from Francis.

In addition to POPELINE, a Web resource for seniors interested in All Things Papal was developed and launched in 2005: NIHSeniorPopeHealth. The Web site, built in cooperation with NIH’s National Institute on Aging (NIA), features large-print screens and a speech option that can read the Web site in English, Spanish, French, Italian and Latin.

“We feel truly blessed to be able to offer these products at this historic moment in time,” said an NLM official, speaking on condition of anonymity, in 2005 1.

“Ego vere appreciate NLM conatus in providente papal literature mundo!” said Pope Francis through a statement released by one of his aides, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“We wish we could translate it from Latin,” said a Vatican spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity, “but no one speaks Latin anymore. It’s a dead language, after all!”

1. Pope’s Passing Leads to New NLM Products: Designed to Provide Papal Info. FLATLINE 2005 Mar-Apr; 7(3-4):7.