Ever since the Holy Father announced he intended to institute a reform of the Roman Curia a few years back – a reform that naturally included all the offices whose work is communications (Vatican Radio, CTV, Holy See Press Office, L’Osservatore Romano newspaper, the publishing house, etc), there has been a state of nervousness and uncertainty along the employees who staff those offices.
As a former Vatican employee (Vatican “retiree”?), except for my weekly program, “Joan Knows” at Vatican Radio, I have heard many of my former colleagues in all of the above offices wonder where the reform will take them. I’ve read many an article that focussed on the question of the future, the post-reform Vatican communications world.
Pope Francis was clear that he did not want any employees to be dismissed in order to meet the new goals. But that has not prevented people from being moved around, being moved from an office where they had a certain expertise to an office that simply needed “another laborer in the vineyard.”
In his speech today to representatives of the plenary of the Secretariat for Communications (see below), Pope Francis tried to allay the fears of Vatican and Roman Curia employees but, in a few instances, he raised new questions.
He concluded his remarks by saying: “Let us resist the temptation of being attached to a glorious past; let’s all be team players in order to better respond to the new communication challenges posed by culture today without fear and without foreseeing apocalyptic scenarios.”
MYANMAR AND HOLY SEE ESTABLISH DIPLOMATIC TIES
Following Pope Francis’ audience this morning with Aung San Suu Kyi, State Counsellor and Union Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, the Vatican announced that, “The Holy See and the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, keen to promote bonds of mutual friendship, have jointly agreed to establish diplomatic relations at the level of Apostolic Nunciature, on behalf of the Holy See, and Embassy, on the part of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar.”
No statement was made about the nature or content of the meeting between the Holy Father and Aung San Suu Kyi.
POPE TO VATICAN MEDIA PERSONNEL: “ACCEPT CHALLENGES WITHOUT FEAR AND APOCALYPTIC SCENARIOS”
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has urged members of Vatican media platforms not to be afraid of reform, and to embrace the challenge of change that will enable them to bring the message of the Gospel to all.
Addressing representatives of the Secretariat for Communications (SPC) gathered for its first Plenary Assembly, the Pope said that to “reform is not just to whitewash things; it’s to give them a different form and organization”.
“It’s something, he said to those charged with overhauling the Vatican’s different news and media outlets, to be done with intelligence and what he called a good kind of ‘violence’.”
Headed by the prefect, Msgr. Dario Viganò, the new Dicastery was created by Pope Francis exactly two years ago with the mandate to unify all Vatican communications platforms: the Vatican Television Center, the Vatican Publishing House, The Osservatore Romano newspaper, Vatican Radio, the Holy See Press Office, the Vatican Photographic Service, the Vatican Internet Service, the Vatican Printing Press and the former Pontifical Council for Social Communications.
Describing the issues addressed during the Plenary are “very dear to his heart,” Pope Francis said the work taken on by the SPC aims to “find new criteria and new ways of communicating the Gospel of mercy to all peoples and cultures making use of the new digital culture at our disposal”.
He highlighted the fact that – as specified in his ‘Motu proprio’ which established the new Dicastery – the reform is not about coordinating or merging the various platforms, but sets up something completely new with a single and unified management which will be able to better respond to the needs of the Church’s mission.
Reflecting on the fact that in the past each platform had its own channels and mediums of communication (the written word, images, audio) the Pope said that “all these forms of communication today are transmitted with a single code that uses the binary system.”
Thus, he said, the Vatican newspaper is called to find a new and different way to reach a much higher number of readers that it does through its printed format.
He said that through the years Vatican Radio has become an ensemble of portals and “must be reshaped according to new models so it can conform to modern technologies and to the needs of our contemporaries”.
And regarding the Vatican’s radiophonic service, the Pope had special words of appreciation for the efforts being made in consideration of countries that are not technologically developed – “I think of Africa” he said – praising the “rationalization of Short Wave frequencies that have never been dismantled.
“History undoubtedly represents a precious patrimony of experience to be safeguarded and used as a push towards the future” he said, pointing out that otherwise it would be a mere museum: “interesting and nice to visit, but unable to provide the strength and courage for the continuation of the journey.”
Pope Francis concluded his address encouraging the SPC to courageously bring the reform to completion with an apostolic and missionary spirit, and asked there be a special regard and attention for situations of need, poverty and difficulty within the knowledge that they must be faced with adequate solutions:
“Let us resist the temptation of being attached to a glorious past; let’s all be team players in order to better respond to the new communication challenges posed by culture today without fear and without foreseeing apocalyptic scenarios.”