FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS – THE DEATH OF A RADIO

FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS – THE DEATH OF A RADIO

Today was a bittersweet day for me because I taped my final “Joan Knows” program at Vatican Radio after 20 years at the radio with this show and, in earlier years, especially when I worked at the Vatican Information Service, by participating in some form in an English language news program once a week.

The sweet part embraced those 20 years of covering both amazing news stories and everyday events in the life of the Pope and the Universal Church, of covering three pontificates, of making lifelong friends with my terrifically talented colleagues at Vatican Radio – colleagues of different languages and backgrounds but we were bound together by our vocation (almost a ministry), our friendship and our love of the Church and papacy.

I lived some heady moments and times and events and learned more than I could ever put in a book, much less one daily column.

And poof, in a flash, with one decision, that is all gone. That was the bitter part of my day.

As part of the reform of the Vatican communications, in particular at the radio, “Joan Knows” and other similar feature programs will be discontinued in English, as they have been or will be in other of the radio’s 40 plus languages, as of April 1.

The death of a radio as we all knew it for 87 years– as did millions around the globe! – on Easter Sunday but no resurrection in sight.

This is the historic radio set up by Guglielmo Marconi, inventor of the radio, for Pope Pius XI in 1931. In fact, on February 12, 1931, he spoke these historical words at the inauguration of the radio: “I have the highest honor of announcing that in only a matter of seconds the Supreme Pontiff, Pope Pius XI, will inaugurate the Radio Station of the Vatican City State. The electric radio waves will transport to all the world his words of peace and blessing.”
To be honest, we were not supposed to use the name “Vatican Radio” as of early 2017. We all did in any case. After all, it was a radio and it was the Vatican’s radio so what else could we call it!

The name, as of last year, was to be strictly confined to “Radio Vaticana Italia” as this was part of a communications reorganization that was to be Italian-centric, at least in the beginning and for the most part.

I will not today speak of the reform in the rest of the Roman Curia where I have a ton of friends whom I’ve known for years and am also aware of the changes in their offices, the low morale in the Vatican, etc. My intent is only to write about the reform in Vatican communications – an initial look at this today because I could probably write a small volume on the topic.

When Pope Francis expressed the desire to reform the world of Vatican communications (Vatican Radio, CTV, the television, Publishing House, press office, L’Osservatore Romano newspaper, Pontifical Council for Social Communications), several commissions looked into and studied the matter, made recommendations to the Holy Father and subsequently he established the Secretariat for Communications, appointing a prefect and several initial board members. Later consultors were appointed.

In addition to consolidating some operations, one of the main objectives of the reform was to find ways to save money without, however, firing people or letting anyone go. It was a well-known published fact that Vatican Radio, for one, was always in the red. How to remedy that was to be uppermost in the minds of the reformers.

Most everyone in these Vatican offices knew there had to be, should be, some kind of consolidation. For example, why should six different offices be responsible for translating a papal homily or Angelus remarks into English or any other language? That’s understandable. And so on.

It was expected – perhaps just hoped for – that the new SPC (Secretariat for Communications) would invite, for example, two persons each from the above communications offices – people with experience in TV, radio, the written word, publishing, etc. – to be part of the new structure. People who could honestly critique their own office and suggest ways to merge activities, streamline functions and perhaps even get a better use of personnel.

That did not happen.

Outsiders were brought in, including a PR firm Accenture. Its specific recommendations, combined with the recommendations of the commissions that studied reforms, can only be guessed at – but perhaps not. Maybe all that is needed is to look at the results.

The biggest move for the radio was to go all digital. This has left millions of people around the world out in the cold. Believe it or not, not everyone on the planet has a computer, tablet or cell phone. There are parts of the world that do not have cell phone towers, where wi-fi is not readily available, areas where people still use home radios for short wave, car radios, small transistors. They will no longer be able to listen to Vatican Radio.

The six principal languages of the Vatican are Italian, English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish. While you can still find the former Vatican radio website online – http://www.radiovaticana.va/ – these six language are available on the new news site – vaticannews.va – the most visible result of the communications reform.

As you read each news story, there is a link to the audio version by the author of that same story. The idea eventually is to have all of the 40 plus languages of (the former) Vatican Radio on a vaticannews.va webpage. Right now, if you want Slovenian, for example, you can access that language page and find photos and print stories and audio files in that language. Soon that will no longer exist – it will be part of a vaticannews.va webpage.

So, it is not radio per se but rather a webpage with audio files (is that too fine a distinction?)

Vaticannews.va does say at the top of each language page that this is the BETA VERSION. I am waiting for the betah (better!) version – more on that later.

With the disappearance of what were known as Feature Stories, it seems there will be no more exciting behind the scenes reports, no profiles of people or organizations or institutions, no more “and today let’s explore the papal palace of Castelgandolfo”, the types of stories that good radio journalists bring to their medium and that listeners enjoy. Staff members still hope they will be allowed to be creative, to really be journalists.

Let’s wait and see.

The reform throughout the Curia, not only at Vatican radio, has meant that very often staff members, instead of being let go, are transferred to other offices for work in which they have no training whatsoever, or perhaps a minimal knowledge. Others have been let go. Yet others do not know from Monday to Friday if they have the same job they’ve had for years or will be asked to go to a new office or take a different direction in their work.

How would you like it if, after 20 plus years at the radio as a professional journalist, you now had to sit in a cubbyhole or small desk in a crowded room and be told to archive programs, photos, CDs?! Or be transferred to a pontifical council whose work was not familiar to you?

In the last two years, as I have talked to friends throughout the Curia and have gone to the radio to tape my weekly show, I have watched and seen things evolve. I have felt so much sadness and bewilderment and anxiety. Capable people who now feel challenged, who are questioned about what they do, who say they have never been asked for input or listened to in this transition period.

This is surely not the first column you have seen on this topic. Other very qualified people have also written about the reform of the Roman Curia, the reform of Vatican communications, citing many of the same issues I have mentioned. Perhaps you heard my two-part interview on EWTN’s Vatican Insider with Chris Altieri, a former colleague at Vatican Radio who left of his own will (as others have in recent months) after 12 years. Chris spoke of all these issues with me and in other interviews as well.

Staff are asking: Do we really have to burn down the whole house to build a new room? Wasn’t there a solid foundation to build on? Why can’t Vatican Radio be called Vatican Radio? Is CTV no longer Vatican Television? Will L’Osservatore Romano newspaper (born in 1861) disappear as well? Is everything now one entity known simply as “Vatican media”?

Why, they ask, would you throw the baby out with the bath water? Or, as one person commented: Vatican Radio has died and they don’t know what to do with the body.

Today is bittersweet because it is an ending, the finale to a terrific journey with marvelous people. Rest assured of one thing, however: I am not bitter. I’m puzzled and sad, but not bitter.

I have so much to thank the Lord for, especially my colleagues and wonderful friends from so many Vatican offices that I’ve known over the decades I have been here. I’m sure they are among the Lord’s favorite children. I pray for them daily, hoping they find fulfilment and continued happiness in serving the Church.

Thank you, my wonderful friends! No names – you all know who you are and what you mean to me!

As I often end this column: God sit on your shoulder!

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POPE ACCEPTS RESIGNATION OF PREFECT OF COMMUNICATIONS SECRETARIAT

POPE ACCEPTS RESIGNATION OF PREFECT OF COMMUNICATIONS SECRETARIAT

Following are my translations of Msgr. Vigano’s letter to Pope Francis in which he offers his resignation as prefect of the SPC, Secretariat for Communications, and the Holy Father’s letter in which he accepts that resignation but names Msgr. Vigano as assessor to the dicastery.

Vatican City, March 19, 2018

Holy Father,

In these last days there have been many polemics concerning a deed of mine that, beyond its intentions, has destabilized the complex and great work of reform that you entrusted to me in June 2015, work that, thanks to the contribution of many people, starting with the staff, is about to reach its final destination.

I thank you for the firm and paternal accompaniment that you have generously offered me over this time and for the renewed esteem you wished to show me in our most recent meeting.

In respect, however, for those who worked with me in these years, and to avoid having my person in some way delay, damage or even block what was established by the Motu proprio L’attuale contesto comunicativo of June 27, 2015 and, above all, out of love for the Church and for you, Holy Father, I ask you to receive my wish to step aside, if you wish it, and to be available to collaborate in some other way.

On the occasion of Christmas wishes to the Roman Curia in 2016, you reminded us how “the reform will be efficacious only if it takes place with ‘renewed’ people, not simply with ‘new’ people. It’s not enough to be content with changing personnel but rather leading the members of the Curia to be renewed spiritually, humanly and professionally. The reform of the Curia does not take place just by changing persons – that without a doubt is happening and will happen – but with inner conversion of people.

I believe that “stepping aside” can be for me a rich occasion for renewal or, recalling the encounter of Jesus with Nicodemus, a time in which to learn and “to be reborn from on high.” After all, it is not the Church of roles that you taught us to love and live, but rather that of service, a style I have always sought to live.

Holy Father, I thank you if you will except this desire of mine to step aside so that the Church and her path can be resumed with decision guided by the Spirit of God.

Asking you for your blessing I assure you of prayers for your ministry and for the path of the reform that has been undertaken.

DarioVigano
************

Vatican City, March 21, 2018

Most Reverend Monsignor,

Following our recent encounter and, after having reflected and pondered at length the reasons for your request to take a step back in direct responsibilities of the dicastery for communications, I respect your decision and accept, but not without difficulty, your resignation as prefect.

I ask you, however, to remain at the dicastery, and I appoint you assessor for Dicastery for Communications to be able to give your human and professional contribution to the new prefect in the project of reform desired by the Council of Cardinals approved and regularly shared by me. This reform has almost reached its conclusive stage with the imminent merger of L’Osservatore Romano newspaper within the one communications system of the Holy See and the consolidation of the Vatican Printing Office.

The great commitment shown in these years in the new dicastery with the style of willing and docile debate that was shown among collaborators and with the organisms of the Roman Curia made evident how the reform of the Church is not above all a problem of an organizational chart but rather assuming a spirit of service.

While I thank you for your humility and your deep sensus ecclesia, I willingly bless you and entrust you to Mary.

Franciscus

“THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE” (JN 8:32) FAKE NEWS AND JOURNALISM FOR PEACE

“THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE” (JN 8:32) FAKE NEWS AND JOURNALISM FOR PEACE

“’The truth will set you free’ (JN 8:32). Fake news and journalism for peace” is the theme chosen by Pope Francis for the 2018 World Day of Social Communications.

The text of the Holy Father’s Message for the World Day of Social Communications is traditionally published on the January 24 feast day of Saint Francis de Sales, patron of journalists.

A statement from the Secretariat for Communications notes that the theme chosen for the 52nd World Day of Social Communications 2018 relates to so-called “fake news,” namely, baseless information that contributes to generating and nurturing a strong polarisation of opinions. It involves an often misleading distortion of facts, with possible repercussions at the level of individual and collective behaviour.

In a context in which the key companies of the social web and the world of institutions and politics have started to confront this phenomenon, the Church too wishes to offer a contribution, proposing a reflection on the causes, the logic and the consequences of disinformation in the media, and helping to promote professional journalism, which always seeks the truth, and therefore a journalism of peace that promotes understanding between people.

World Day of Social Communications, the only world day established by Vatican Council II (“Inter Mirifica”, 1963), is celebrated in many countries, by recommendation of the bishops of the world, on the Sunday preceding Pentecost (in 2018, 13 May).

 

RADIO, AN ANTIDOTE TO FAKE NEWS

Many changes are coming to what we know today as Vatican Radio, and I mentioned one of these in yesterday’s column – the disappearance of the 15-minute Italian, French and English-language morning news programs, replaced by Italian commentary and news, and the fact that whoever wants to listen to English news and reports in the evening can only do so via digital radio.

I found this talk today by Msgr Dario Vigano interesting, although he does not refer to any specifics in the ongoing reform of Vatican communications, specifically the radio. I personally know of a number of changes in personnel – people transferred from Vatican Radio to another office someplace in the Vatican, perhaps a pontifical council, even if their skills are in broadcasting. I’ve seen radio people transferred from an office where they have worked for years to another room where there are already personnel and small spaces have to be shared.

Is the building that houses all the offices of the 40 or so languages at Vatican Radio about to be used to house other Vatican offices – perhaps a new entity about to be created by the Pope? Perhaps in the long run we will learn what these changes mean.

RADIO, AN ANTIDOTE TO FAKE NEWS

(Vatican Radio) The prefect of the  Secretariat for Communications, Msgr. Dario Edoardo Viganò on Thursday addressed a workshop in Milan entitled “Journalism in the age of Fake News. The frontier of radio.”

Facts versus fiction

In remarks prepared for the occasion,  Msgr. Viganò began by stressing the importance of fact and source checking in this era of fake news, saying that it was “worth remembering that the verification of sources is the primary rule of journalism, adding that, in the age of contemporary information truth runs the risk of becoming a secondary aspect.”

The prefect went on to say that, “because of a continuous technological evolution, it is difficult to use the conceptual categories of the past,” and he noted the role of the internet and social media which have played their part in changing the media boundaries that people have become accustomed to.

Msgr. Viganò said that what was required in this era of fake news was “to reiterate the need to recover the foundations of ethics and the ethics of the journalistic profession that are based precisely on the verification of sources as well as on other principles.” He also commented that there was a need for critical thinking on the part of social media users who often share information on their own profiles without paying too much attention to the text.

Radio and Fake news

Turning his attention to radio, he said that in this age of fake news, “…radio is a strategic key to ‘anti fake news’,” which can not only counteract this phenomenon but can facilitate an opposing logic.

By exploiting the new media, he said, “radio has strengthened its identity at all times and has kept its appeal intact both in terms of audience, advertising and economic investments.”

Msgr. Viganò underlined that radio enjoys consistent credibility among young people who put it in pole position among the traditional media, such as TV and newspapers.

In short, he said radio involves an extraordinary narrative immediacy that has a fundamental value.

Msgr.Viganò was participating at the workshop ahead of the 69th edition of Gran Prix Italia, the Rai International Competition dedicated to innovative radio and TV programs and high-quality cultural and artistic programs.

 

FRANCIS GREETS DELEGATION FROM NFL HALL OF FAME – THE SAINTS ARE WITNESSES AND COMPANIONS OF HOPE – WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT VATICAN DICASTERIES?

As you will see in the third story, I mention the SPC, the Secretariat for Communications. I had reason to look up a name today in the Vatican’s 2017 phone directory and was surprised to see that the SPC has 11 pages of phone numbers (Secretariat of State has only 4 and a half), having combined all the Vatican communications offices (newspaper, CTV, radio, press office, etc) under one umbrella. Took me quite a while to find the one name I needed!

FRANCIS GREETS DELEGATION FROM NFL HALL OF FAME

Before today’s general audience, Pope Francis received a delegation from the National Football League Hall of Fame, including six previous inductees, one team owner who will be inducted in August, and members of the Hall of Fame’s Board of Trustees.Francis said. “I am pleased to greet you, the members and directors of the American Pro Football Hall of Fame, and to welcome you to the Vatican.  As many of you know, I am an avid follower of ‘football’, but where I come from, the game is played very differently!”

The Pope highlighted the “traditional values of sportsmanship that you (NFL) seek to embody, both on the field and in your own lives, your families and your communities.  Our world, and especially our young people, need models, persons who show us how to bring out the best in ourselves, to use our God-given gifts and talents, and, in so doing, to point the way to a better future for our societies.”

The Holy Father, as he has done on many occasions when addressing sports figures and groups and young people in general, stressed the importance of “teamwork, fair play and the pursuit of personal excellence” saying these “are the values – in the religious sense, we can say virtues” that are also “urgently needed off the field, on all levels of our life as a community.  They are the values that help build a culture of encounter, in which we anticipate and meet the needs of our brothers and sisters, and combat the exaggerated individualism, indifference and injustice that hold us back from living as one human family.  How greatly our world needs this culture of encounter!”

THE SAINTS ARE WITNESSES AND COMPANIONS OF HOPE

The Holy Father Wednesday, contin uing his series of catecheses on Christian hope, reflected on the Saints as witnesses and companions of Hope.

“Dear Brothers and Sisters,” began Francis, “we now look to the saints, to ‘those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith’.  The Letter to the Hebrews speaks of the saints as ‘a great cloud of witnesses’ who support us on our pilgrim way through this present life.  In the sacraments of baptism, marriage and ordination, we pray the Litany of the Saints to implore their intercession and help in the particular vocation we have received.”

The Pope went on to note that, “the lives of the saints remind us that the Christian ideal is not unattainable.  Despite our human weakness, we can always count on God’s grace and the prayers of the saints to sustain us in faith and in hope for the transfiguration of this world and the fulfilment of Christ’s promises in the next.”

“May the Lord enable all of us,” concluded Francis, “to become saints, to be living images of Christ in our time.  May he strengthen us to be his witnesses and to bring the Gospel to all our brothers and sisters, especially the suffering and those most in need of its message of undying hope.”

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT VATICAN DICASTERIES?

Click on (then save) the following link and you’ll see the chart I posted below. I’ve not visited every site before posting this today, just a few, however some of them are still from the http://www.vatican.va site and have not been updated in quite some time. Other are quite interesting. I’m guessing this is all part of the Secretariat for Communication’s (SPC) planned reform in the area of communications and that some day there will be a totally new website that will be updated frequently, if not daily.

ttp://www.vatican.va/siti_va/index_va_en.htm

   
CONGREGATIONS
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith www.doctrinafidei.va www.memoriafidei.va www.acdf.va
Pontifical Commission for Latin America (Congregation for Bishops) www.americalatina.va
Pontifical Mission Societies (Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples) www.ppoomm.va
Museum of Propaganda Fide (Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples) www.museopropagandafide.va
Historical Archive “de Propaganda Fide” (Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples) www.archiviostoricopropaganda.va
Congregation for the Clergy www.clerus.va
Congregation for Catholic Education (for Institutes of Study) www.educatio.va
Congregation for the Causes of Saints www.causesanti.va
Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life www.congregazionevitaconsacrata.va
TRIBUNALS
Apostolic Penitentiary www.penitenzieria.va
Roman Rota www.rotaromana.va
PONTIFICAL COUNCILS
Pontifical Council for the Laity www.laici.va
Pontifical Council for the Family www.familia.va
Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace www.iustitiaetpax.va www.laudatosi.va
Pontifical Council for Culture www.cultura.va
Pontifical Council for Social Communications www.pccs.va www.intermirifica50.va
The Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization www.novaevangelizatio.va www.annusfidei.va www.iubilaeummisericordiae.va
Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts www.delegumtextibus.va
Pontifical Council Cor Unum www.corunum.va www.corunumjubilaeum.va
DICASTERIES
Dicastery for the Laity, the Family and Life www.laityfamilylife.va
SYNOD OF BISHOPS
XIV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (Holy See Press Office’s Communications Channel) synod15.vatican.va
XV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops youth.synod2018.va
OFFICES
PONTIFICAL COMMISSIONS
Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors www.protectionofminors.va
OTHER INSTITUTIONS
Pontifical Musical Chorus of the Sistine Chapel: www.cappellamusicalepontificia.va
Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation www.centesimusannus.va
Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem www.oessh.va
Campo Santo Teutonico www.camposanto.va www.camposantoteutonico.va www.erzbruderschaft.va www.paepstlichespriesterkolleg.va www.pontificiocollegioteutonico.va www.deutscherfriedhof.va www.cimiteroteutonico.va www.priesterkolleg.va www.collegioteutonico.va
OTHER COMMISSIONS AND COMMITTEES
Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses www.congressieucaristici.va
Pontifical Swiss Guard www.guardiasvizzera.va
Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences www.historia.va
INSTITUTIONS CONNECTED WITH THE HOLY SEE
Vatican Secret Archives asv.vatican.va (www.archiviosegretovaticano.va) www.scuolavaticanapaleografia.va
Vatican Library www.vaticanlibrary.va
L’Osservatore Romano www.osservatoreromano.va
Vatican Publishing House www.libreriaeditricevaticana.va
Vatican Radio www.radiovaticana.va
Photografic Service of L’Osservatore Romano www.photo.va
Office of Papal Charities www.elemosineria.va
Holy See’s Agency for the Evaluation and Promotion of Quality in Ecclesiastical Universities and Faculties (AVEPRO) www.avepro.va
Financial Intelligence Authority (AIF) www.aif.va
Vatican Television Center (CTV) www.ctv.va
Excavations Office (Fabric of St. Peter) www.scavi.va
LABOUR OFFICE OF THE APOSTOLIC SEE
ULSA (Labour Office of the Apostolic See) www.ulsa.va
VATICAN CITY STATE
Vatican City State www.vaticanstate.va
Vatican Museums www.museivaticani.va
Online Ticket Office of the Vatican Museums biglietteriamusei.vatican.va
The Vatican Observatory 2014 Summer School www.voss2014.va
Vatican Observatory www.vaticanobservatory.va
PONTIFICAL ACADEMIES
Pontifical Academy of Sciences www.casinapioiv.va www.endslavery.va
Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences www.pass.va
Pontifical Academy of Saint Thomas Aquinas www.past.va
INSTITUTES OF STUDIES
Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music www.musicasacra.va
SECTIONS OF THE OFFICIAL SITE
Abuse of minors. The Church’s response www.resources.va
Pontifical Council Cor Unum www.corunum.va
Photo Galleries www.photogallery.va
FOUNDATIONS
The Joseph Ratzinger Vatican Foundation www.fondazioneratzinger.va
Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation www.centesimusannus.va
Paediatric Medical Foundation of Santa Marta www.dispensariosantamarta.va
OTHER
Pontifical Parish of St Anne in the Vatican www.santanna.va
Institute for Religious Works (IOR) www.ior.va
PONTIFICAL DELEGATIONS
Pontifical Delegation for the Basilica of St. Anthony in Padua

 

MYANMAR AND HOLY SEE ESTABLISH DIPLOMATIC TIES – POPE TO VATICAN MEDIA PERSONNEL: “ACCEPT CHALLENGES WITHOUT FEAR AND APOCALYPTIC SCENARIOS”

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.”

AN UPDATE ON THE POPE FRANCIS LAUNDROMAT…. – VATICAN INSIDER VISITS THE SHROUD OF TURIN: PART II – POPE TO COMMEMORATE NEW MARTYRS IN LITURGY OF THE WORD – EWTN CEO WARSAW NAMED CONSULTOR TO VATICAN SECRETARIAT

May I take this occasion to send heartfelt wishes to all my listeners for a very holy and blessed Triduum and a Happy Easter of the Resurrection!

EWTN employees will have time off for Mass on Holy Thursday and all day Good Friday. I’ll be off those days as well, participating in Triduum liturgies with the American Catholic community of Santa Susanna in Rome but I’ll be back for Pasquetta, Little Easter as we say in Italy, the Monday after Easter (also known as Monday of the Angel) and a very big holiday in Italy and much of Europe. I fly to the U.S. on Holy Saturday but am never more than a keyboard and a camera away from work, posting stories, blogs, photos, etc.

AN UPDATE ON THE POPE FRANCIS LAUNDROMAT….

In a news story on the Pope Francis Laundromat for the poor and homeless that just opened in Rome, moneyish.com reported that Whirlpool donated six washers and dryers, as well as a number of irons. “We are proud to partner with the Papal Charities Office to make laundry services available to the homeless in Rome with the donation of Whirlpool appliances,” the brand’s senior direct of communications Alessandro Magnoni told Moneyish. “This is perfectly aligned with Whirlpool’s mission to give back to local communities.”

In addition, the story noted that Procter & Gamble has also volunteered to give detergent and fabric softener. “P&G wants to help bring comforts of home to those who need them the most,” a rep told Moneyish.

It seems that the Vatican also hopes to bring shower facilities, barbers and medical care to the same area in Trastevere on Via San Gallicano that now houses the papal Laundromat. Such facilities are now available for the homeless in the Vatican near the right hand colonnade of St. Peter’s Square.

VATICAN INSIDER VISITS THE SHROUD OF TURIN: PART II

Join me if you can on Vatican Insider this Easter weekend for a somewhat shorter addition as EWTN employees have time off for Mass on Holy Thursday and all day Good Friday. To commemorate Good Friday, I offer Part II of my special on the Man of the Shroud – the Shroud of Turin, of course, allegedly the linen that wrapped Our Lord’s body as he lay in the tomb after his passion and death.

In the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. Outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00am (ET). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK YOUR TIME ZONE. Here’s a link to download VI to your iTunes library: http://www.ewtn.com/se/pg/DatService.svc/feed/~LE.xml   For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

POPE TO COMMEMORATE NEW MARTYRS IN LITURGY OF THE WORD

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis will celebrate a special Liturgy of the Word in memory of the “New Martyrs” of the 20th and 21st centuries on Saturday, April 22.

A communique from the Holy See Press Office said the prayer will take place in the Basilica of St. Bartholomew on the Tiberina Island, which is located in the heart of Rome on the Tiber River.

The Liturgy of the Word celebration is organized by the Sant’Egidio Community and takes place at 5 PM.

A separate communique released by the Sant’Egidio Community said the Basilica of St. Bartholomew held special significance: “The Pope’s prayer in a place, which – since the Jubilee of 2000, at John Paul II’s behest – contains the memoirs of contemporary martyrs, takes on a very special significance in these times marked by the suffering of so many Christians in the world and by the light of Easter.”

EWTN CEO WARSAW NAMED CONSULTOR TO VATICAN SECRETARIAT

Pope Francis has appointed EWTN Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael P. Warsaw as a Consultor to the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications. The appointment was announced at the Vatican on Wednesday, April 12, 2017. As a consultor, Warsaw will have a role in advising the Pope and the Holy See on matters related to media and communications. The appointment comes as part a broad restructuring of the media operations of the Vatican.

“I am extremely humbled and honored by the Holy Father’s appointment,” said Warsaw. “This is a tremendous recognition of the role which EWTN plays in the life of the Church throughout the world. I am grateful to Pope Francis for his confidence and look forward to serving the universal Church in this post.”

Warsaw joined EWTN in 1991 and has held senior management positions in the areas of television production, satellite operations and technical services. He became President of EWTN in 2000 and assumed the post of chief executive officer in 2009. Warsaw was named chairman of the board of EWTN in 2013. In that capacity he oversees the Network’s strategic direction and mission around the world. With the Network’s 2011 acquisition of the National Catholic Register, Mr. Warsaw assumed the role of publisher of that newspaper.

Prior to joining EWTN, Mr. Warsaw was employed by the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.   He currently serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of The Catholic University of America, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and the Catholic Distance University.

The Secretariat for Communications was established by Pope Francis in an apostolic decree on June 25, 2015. Among its responsibilities, it has the task of carrying out the restructuring, reorganization and consolidation of the various communications outlets of the Holy See including the Vatican Television Center, the Vatican Publishing House, L’Osservatore Romano newspaper, Vatican Radio, the Holy See Press Office, Photographic Service and the Vatican Internet Service.  The office is headed by Monsignor Dario Vigano, who serves as Prefect.