Vatican City (Vatican Radio) - February 13th is World Radio Day - a day to celebrate the power of the medium, to call attention to the social contribution radio continues to make all around the world, and to call attention to specific themes of general concern. Below, please find a statement from Vatican Radio explaining our participation in this year's celebration of the annual recurrence.
World Radio Day 2014 – Vatican Radio Press Release
As the Grandmother of radio stations (she turned 83 on February 12th), Vatican Radio is proud to inaugurate World Radio Day 2014 (one second after midnight on February 13th) by broadcasting a concert performed by the French National Orchestra and offered by Radio France and the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). Special programming, available throughout the day on our website (www.vaticanradio.org ), will focus on the role of women in broadcasting and how Vatican Radio's own female journalists are able to give voice to women without a voice. Part of a long-term project involving women from Africa, Asia and the Americas, these programmes highlight courageous and inspiring women who face challenging situations as they work for peace and justice in the world.
MANILA — In what appeared to be the biggest thrill in their life, the Philippine bishops in a workshop navigated the realm of social media, with many posting their first messages on Facebook.
For some there was a bit of apprehension of not knowing yet what to do at first, only ending up delighted in knowing that it wasn't that difficult after all.
"The biggest thrill of doing this is to see the transformation inside and not outside," said Vatican Radio director Sean Lovett.
He said he is excited to witness the transformation of the bishops in learning the new media, of seeing their eyes literally light up in excitement in discovering that opening a facebook account and posting photos and messages is much easier than they thought.
Lovett, together with Fr. Jerry Martinson, SJ is conducting a seminar-workshop on Media management and social media for the bishops leading to the CBCP plenary assembly on Jan. 25 to 27.
Exercise of communion
Lingayen Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, CBP president, noted that the seminar workshop was an exercise of communion.
"The bishops humbly allowed themselves to be taught by younger people, by religious who might not be as well trained as they [bishops] are in theology but they are willing to learn from others. I think this should be celebrated as a step towards communion in the Church," he said.
Members of the Pauline family from the Society of St. Paul, Daughters of St. Paul and the Pious Disciples of the Divine Master helped Lovett and Martinson in facilitating the workshop.
Villegas said having the Religious and seminarians facilitate in the workshop is also a blessing as it also presented "an opportunity for them to let go of their biases, their apprehensions that the bishops are stiff and rigid, so it became an opportunity for warming up of relationships."
"There is really no substitute to a personal encounter, that it is not just about learning techniques, but the important thing is a personal encounter with each other and encountering Christ in each other, and that is evangelization," he said.
"Evangelization is Jesus in my heart reaching out to your heart. I think that is a celebration of mutual evangelization," the prelate furthered.
Villegas, who also has a facebook account that has already garnered 14 thousand likes, said the workshop helped further enhance the appreciation of those who are already using facebook, and for those who are not yet into it have discovered the value of social media.
Legazpi Bishop Joel Baylon also said he is very happy about the workshop because it was not only "something that is seen as a youthful activity or something that only young people can get into but each and everyone of us, mainly because of the evangelization value of getting into the world of social media."
For his part, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, who already has an existing facebook account that has reached its 5000 maximum of friends, discovered another way of expanding his reach in cyberspace by opening a fan page.
"I made the first fan page during this workshop, so it is wonderful that in 10 minutes you can have already 27 friends," he said.
Having learned also how to upload photos, Pabillo vowed to always accompany his posts with images from now on.
"The picture is so powerful and I know how to upload a picture now. So this is something that can be something of help and I resolve to update my facebook account more frequently," he said.
Passion to use the new media
Lovett observed that although most bishops have the gadgets, the tablets, the Macbook and all the instruments, many of them also do not have the skills or the desire to use these instruments to their best capability.
But apparently the workshop did not only give them the skills but also fired them up to engage in social networking.
"It's funny but the reality is that most of the bishops who are not media savvy, who do not have much experience about media came away from the session this morning not only with a greater awareness of the medium and not only with the realization that they can do it but the desire, the passion to use this new media, the social networking to stay connected with their young people, especially interact with them, and to inspire them in a new way," he said.
"I have given many seminars to so many bishops, not only in one place in one time, and with such a diversity of age groups and experiences. We have one bishop [this morning] who does not have a cellphone, and by the end of the morning he had a facebook account," Lovett raved.
Vatican City (PCSC) - To celebrate the second anniversary of the launch of News.va - the central hub of the Vatican's media services - the Pontifical Council for Social Communications is inaugurating today a special tablet edition of www.news.va for iPad users. The new site loads automatically when browsed via iPad, providing a totally new way of reading and experiencing news.va content via multitouch, tablet gestures. No app download is necessary. The look and feel is very similar to reading a magazine and flipping through the pages.
News.va is a service provided by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, in cooperation with the media offices of the Holy See, including, Fides News Agency, L'Osservatore Romano, the Holy See Press Office, Vatican Radio, the Vatican Television Center (CTV) and the Internet Office of the Holy See. News.va is an instrument of evangelization at the service of the papal ministry and is intended as a service for all.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis said that "as things got dangerous" in the conclave voting, he was sitting next to his "great friend," Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes "who comforted me."
When the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio went over the 77 votes needed to become pope, he said, Cardinal Hummes "hugged me, kissed me and said, 'Don't forget the poor.'"
Pope Francis told thousands of journalists March 16 that he took to heart the words of his friend and chose to be called after St. Francis of Assisi, "the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and protects creation," the same created world "with which we don't have such a good relationship."
"How I would like a church that is poor and that is for the poor," he told the more than 5,000 media representatives who came from around the world for the conclave and his election.
Pope Francis also said some had suggested jokingly that he, a Jesuit, should have taken the name Clement XV "to get even with Clement XIV, who suppressed the Society of Jesus" in the 1700s.
The pope told the media, "You've really been working, haven't you."
While the church includes a large institution with centuries of history, he said, "the church does not have a political nature, but a spiritual one."
Pope Francis told reporters it was the Holy Spirit who led Pope Benedict XVI to resign, and it was the Holy Spirit who guided the conclave.
The pope acknowledged how difficult it is for many media to cover the church as a spiritual, rather than a political institution, and he offered special thanks "to those who were able to observe and recount these events in the story of the church from the most correct perspective in which they must be read, that of faith."
The church, he said, "is the people of God, the holy people of God, because it is journeying toward an encounter with Jesus Christ."
No one can understand the church without understanding its spiritual purpose, he said.
"Christ is the pastor of the church, but his presence passes through the freedom of human beings," he said. "Among them, one is chosen to serve as his vicar on earth. But Christ is the center, the focal point."
Thanking the reporters again for all their hard work, Pope Francis also asked them to continue trying "to discover the true nature of the church and its journey through the world, with its virtues as well as its sins."
Communications, he said, requires study, preparation and a special attention "to truth, goodness and beauty," which is something the church has in common with journalism.
He ended his talk by telling reporters he hoped they would grow in their knowledge of "the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the reality of the church. I entrust you to the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, star of the new evangelization."
After personally greeting dozens of journalists and representatives of the Vatican press office, the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the Vatican newspaper and Vatican Radio, the pope came back to the microphone.
"I know that many of you are not Catholic or are not believers, so I impart my heartfelt blessing to each of you silently, respecting your consciences, but knowing that each of you is a child of God. May God bless you," he said.
By Cindy Wooden
Brussels/Rome (SIGNIS) - After ten years of service at the head of SIGNIS Services Rome (SSR), the SIGNIS pastoral and technical office in Rome, Fr Bernardo Suate left his office on January 1st, 2013. The new Director of SSR appointed by the SIGNIS Board is Fr Giuseppe Cellucci.
Father Giuseppe Cellucci is an OMI (Oblates of Mary Immaculate) priest born in Atessa, Italy, in 1947. He graduated in social communication at the Pauline Fathers in Rome and also trained at CREC, under the guidance of Fr. Pierre Babin.
From 1985 to 2002 he was Head of the Audiovisual Animation Service at the Pontifical Mission Societies in Italy. In recent years he has followed and supervised the publication and dissemination of audio-visual subsidies at the Diocesan Missionary Offices of the Italian Church. He is also a collaborator for the Italian program of Vatican Radio and, since 2004, editor-in-chief in the Missioni OMI magazine.
He is now the new Director of SIGNIS Services Rome, a SIGNIS service that provides technical assistance and equipment for use in the transmission of evangelical and human values, especially in developing countries. SSR supplies equipment for low-cost access to the Internet via satellite, audiovisual equipment, radio studios, portable radio kits and computers.
Fr Cellucci was appointed by the SIGNIS Board during their meeting in Beirut in November 2012. The Board also paid homage to the work, human qualities and dedication of Fr Bernardo Suate who, after ten years of relentless commitment to "connect people in a concrete way" at the head of SSR, has been appointed Director of the Portuguese service at Vatican Radio. We wish them both well in their new missions.
Vatican City (Vatican Radio) - "The Church Up Close: Covering Catholicism in the Age of Benedict XVI" is the name of a Professional Seminar for Journalists held by the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome.
The six-day seminar is offered to journalists across the globe every other year, and is taking place this September from Monday 16th at the University headquarters just across the river from Vatican Radio.
Vatican Radio's Linda Bordoni spoke to father John Wauk, a Professor at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, and President of the Organizing Committee of the Seminar.
listen to the interview...
Father Wauk explains that the way journalists cover Vatican stories since the beginning of the Papacy of Benedict XVI is indeed different to how they would have gone about reporting during the age of Pope John Paul II. He explains that during the papacy of the latter a great deal of media coverage was focussed on the personality and on the person of John Paul II. This - he says - "has changed quite a bit and the coverage of "Catholic" stories is not as centered upon the person of Benedict". That's why - he says - we talk about covering Catholicism "in the Age of Benedict" and not "covering the Papacy" or something along those lines.
Fr. Wauk says that having the Seminar in Rome provides a vantage point for aspiring journalists from which to see the whole Church. A convenient place from which to see a bit of everything. And that - he says - is what we try to provide in our Seminar.
As well as giving participants an array of tools to strengthen their coverage including a basic sense of the lay of the land at the Vatican, the Seminar also offers a series of in-depth analyisis of specific hot-button issues confronting the Church today such as inter-religious dialogue, social and bio-ethical topics , sexual morality and so on as well as the nature and structure of the Catholic Church, its organization and its role in international politics.
Thus, the seminar includes meetings with representatives of Vatican organs such as the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, the Secretariat of State, the Press Office of the Holy See and so on.
For example Archbishop Fisichella will be talking about the upcoming "Year of Faith" and Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi (a returning guest) will be telling young journalists how the Press Office operates.
The Seminar programme also includes visits to significant historic sites in Rome like the Roman necropolis beneath the Basilica of St. Peter, the Sistine Chapel and the Catacombs.
The Seminar, sponsored by "Our Sunday Visitor" has been so successful in the past years that one of the Professors from Columbia University Journalism School in New New York recently asked the Santa Croce University to organise a class for his students.
To the question "How important is it for the mission of the Church today that Church news be reported in a correct manner? Father Wauk says "It is essential for the Catholic Church to be involved in media of all sorts. We are all familiar with the explosion of media coverage and all the new media, but it means information is very difficult to control. And a lot of information is partial or mixed with error, or out of context. So what we are trying to do do is help journalists to get the story straight. Frequently the errors and misinterpretations that one encounters aren't the product of ill will, but the Catholic Church is a very complicated institution and not easy to grasp at first glance, especially for people who may be unfamiliar with the Church's history. So we are trying to do our part to overcome the difficulties that are so inherent in covering the Catholic Church in today's very rapid media environment".
Vatican City (Vatican Radio) - Conflicts, religions and (non)violence is the theme chosen to weave its way through this year's edition of the Religion Today Film Festival.
At its XVth edition, this festival which carries the subtitle "Exploring the Differences", tackles our particular moment in history which on one side sees widespread spiritual need and awakening, and on the other, a breakdown of trust and dialogue due to international tensions and the "clash" of civilizations in a globalised world.
Simone Semprini is one of the organizers of this festival which boasts the backing of a number of regional and cultural organizations, including that of SIGNIS - the World Catholic Association for Communication.
Semprini chatted to Vatican Radio's Linda Bordoni about the Film Festival that runs from 12th to 24th October with events in various Italian cities and towns.
listen to the interview...
Semprini explains that the festival has been part of the SIGNIS panorama for the past 4 or 5 years and every year the festival hosts a SIGNIS Jury.
He says that each year a different theme is chosen because it helps channel energies and provide a clear focus, but of course, he says, significant movies can be selected to participate even if they are not directly connected to the theme.
This year, he says, "we are trying to merge the two souls of the festival: the religious one and the social one".
Semprini says festival organizers are trying, once again, to put together religion and society; trying to foster a reflection on the role religions can play in international relations and in societies. Especially related to violence issues.
He explains that all the movies chosen to participate are competing for Awards. There is an internationial Jury which assigns the major prizes, and then there are other categories, with specific prizes.
Semprini says the festival foresees a lot of guest events, and this year the organisation is particularly attentive to the influences of other forms of art, such as theatre.
It is an itinerant festival, Semprini points out, in the sense that the Festival was born in the Northern town of Trento where it is located. However during the year there are events that take place in other venues across the Italian peninusula in the effort to spread the Festival's message of Meeting and Dialogue.
Semprini also explains that Italian films make up only about one fifth of the total works in competition. He says most films come from the Middle East and from Eastern Europe. They are all screened in original language and have English sub-titlles and - "when we can afford it" - also Italian subtitles.
For more news and information about the Religion Today Film Festival you can go to the webpage at www.religionfilm.com and to the Religion Today Film Festival facebook page.
Vatican City (Vatican Radio) - The Asian church must evangelise on the digital continent and they can learn how to do this by looking at the advances made in the field by Vatican Radio. This is according to Dr. Chainarong Monthienvichienchai, Chancellor of St. John's University, Bangkok, Thailand and a long-time consultant for Pontifical Council for Social Communications. It is also what he told Asian bishops on Tuesday, the second day of the VIII Congress of the Federations' Bishops' Institute for Social Communications" (BISCOM VIII) which is taking place in the Tahi capital Bangkok. Vatican Radio's Fr. Joseph Paimpalli is in Bangkok following the conference and sends us this report:
"In the digital culture, everyone's opinion is valid, meaning to say that if a question or contradiction is posted, the digital natives expect a response or something resembling a conversation. We can choose not to enter into that cultural mindset, but we do so at great peril to the Church's credibility and approachability in the minds of the natives, those who are growing up in this new culture. This is a new form of pastoral ministry. It may not be the platform we are seeking, but it is an opportunity of such magnitude that we should consider carefully the consequences of disregarding it" , said Dr. Chainarong.
He was addressing the participants of 8th edition of "Bishops' Institute for Social Communication" (BISCOM VIII) today at the Assumption University, in Bangkok, Thailand. The week-long event has the theme "Social Media: Surfing, Networking, Blogging, Gaming, Addiction - Challenges and Opportunities for Communication Ministry in Asia". 45 participants including 14 bishops, archbishops from 12 South Asian countries are participating in the program.
While introducing "Church and Internet: Documents and Teachings on a "New Culture" Dr. Chainarong started with a video presentation of the beginning of Vatican Radio, its present day reach and approach, and how Pope Benedict XVI his first 'tweet'.
He said: "You may also have heard that the Catholic Church was once a pioneering force in communications. Since the time of Jesus Christ, its followers have traveled the globe preaching and converting hundreds upon hundreds, thousands upon thousands to the truths of the Gospel message. Its scholars compiled the Bible and books of learning that continue to exert their influence on the world today. Its members also established systems of schools, colleges, hospitals, and churches. Clearly, the Church has historically mastered the art of social communication."
However, Dr. Chainarong lamented the present day situation of the Church in the field of communication saying "you may observe that today in many parts of the world, including Asia, the Church has fallen short of that reputation. It is lagging behind other organizations in adopting new forms of communication. To be more precise, the Church is lacking in its efforts to utilize new media. Meanwhile, new media and technology has continued to advance, leaving the Church behind. Indeed, the Church today finds herself in the midst of a technological revolution, the biggest communication shift since the advent of the printing press."
He said: it was in Redemptoris Missio that Pope John Paul II described the new communication situation as a 'New Culture.' He demands that the Christian Message has to be integrated "into the 'New Culture' created by modern communications"
Dr. Chainarong said "for the 44th World Communications Day in 2010, Pope Benedict XVI focused on the importance of digital communications, in which priests can discover new possibilities for carrying out their ministry to and for the Word of God. The priests can help men and women of our time using the resources made available by the digital age in which we live.
The Holy Father addressed the need for the pastoral presence of priests in cyberspace. In as much as "All priests have as their primary duty the proclamation of Jesus Christ", they have to respond to the challenge of preaching the gospel amidst the cultural shifts of the present.
Looking back at BISCOM VI, Dr. Chainarong reminded the participants that "the final statement (of BISCOM VI) said that experts from different disciplines urge the bishop participants to look at the opportunities of the new media environment with new eyes: the more we are present in cyberspace, the more we are challenged to extend our 'parish'! The Church should also integrate Information and Communication Technology into its administrative and pastoral work.
It is equally interesting to observe that the final statement notes that the situation of the Church in Asia is far from ideal for the integration of ICTs.
"Except for a few countries, many bishops are working among the poor and marginalized with lack of electricity, poor financial resources and inadequate access or exposure to modern technology. They might not be able yet to fully benefit from the modern means of communication."
However, the Bishops agree in the statement that technology is moving forward relentlessly, bringing down costs and making new communication tools affordable and accessible to increasing numbers of people, especially the young.
Dr. Chainarong concluded his talk on Vatican Radio saying "you may have already heard that since July 1 a new chapter in the history of Vatican Radio has evolved from Short Waves to new communication strategies. Vatican Radio's 40 different language programs can now not only be received via satellite but also available 'live' on five web channels, on demand and in podcast. According to the Director General of Radio Vatican Fr Federico Lombardi, the time has come to reduce its reliance on traditional technologies, like Short and Medium Wave broadcasts, and to develop its resources to more innovative technological criteria".
His thought provoking end comments were: "Most of us are digital immigrants who need lessons on the digital culture, just as we expect missionaries to learn the cultures of the people they are evangelizing. We have to be 'enculturated'. It is more than just learning how to create a Facebook account. It is learning an entirely new way of how to think, live, and evangelize on the Digital Continent."
The aim of BISCOM has been designed to equip bishops of South Asia with necessary skills and knowledge for handling modern media. It also aims to develop a pastoral approach to the emerging media.
The BISCOM 8 is organized by the Office of Social Communications (OSC) of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC).
Vatican City (Vatican Radio) - The official website for the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Lebanon has been launched. The Holy Father's trip will be from September 14 to 16, and he will visit Beirut/Harissa, Baabda, Bzommar, Bkerké, and Charfet.
The website is available in four languages – Arabic, English, French, and Italian. It includes the programme of the trip, information on the life and pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI, and the story of the Churches in the Middle East.
The website is located at www.lbpapalvisit.com
The organizing committee has also launched channels on Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Vatican Radio will end its short- and medium-wave broadcasts to Europe and North and South America July 1, and a month later the Vatican press office will close the Vatican Information Service, a multilingual daily summary of papal speeches and appointments.
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office and of Vatican Radio, announced the changes June 12, saying they were responses to developments in technology and would save the Vatican money.
The changes at Vatican Radio, he said, should save the Vatican "hundreds of thousands" of dollars just in electricity bills each year. But the radio station is not reducing the number of programs or the 40 languages in which the programs are produced.
The decision to stop the short- and medium-wave broadcasts reflect the fact that Europe, North and South America are well covered by local radio stations that re-broadcast Vatican Radio programs and a large portion of their populations have access to radio programs via the internet.
Short- and medium-wave broadcasts to Africa, parts of the Middle East and Asia will continue, he said, because fewer people have access to the Internet there and most of the stations rebroadcasting Vatican Radio programs are located only in big cities.
"Over the course of the 20th century, the international short- and medium-wave transmissions of Vatican Radio were a service of inestimable value in the history of the church -- especially in Europe -- supporting those populations oppressed by war and totalitarianism," Father Lombardi said.
The Jesuit said ending the broadcasts to Europe, North and South America would cut in half the hours of transmission from the Vatican's antenna field at Santa Maria di Galeria outside Rome. He said the decision was motivated strictly by the fact that new technology has made the broadcasts superfluous and had nothing to do with concerns about the potential health dangers posed by electromagnetic emissions from the transmission center.
Residents near Santa Maria di Galeria sued Vatican Radio in the late 1990s, saying the transmissions exceeded levels set under Italian law. In 2005, an Italian court cleared the radio station and, Father Lombardi said, already by August 2001 the antenna field had reduced emissions to below the Italian limit.
The Vatican Information Service, which provides summaries of Vatican news in daily English, French or Spanish emails to 60,000 subscribers, will be replaced by a multilingual summary of the Vatican press office's daily news bulletin, he said.
VIS, which traditionally suspended publication for the month of August, will end operations July 31 and the new multilingual bulletin will debut in September, Father Lombardi said.
Father Lombardi said five members of VIS' seven-member staff will work for the press office, either translating entire papal speeches or at least providing summaries of them in English, French and Spanish. The other two staffers, he said, would join the team producing www.news.va, a Vatican news aggregator, which publishes in English, French, Spanish and Italian.
By Cindy Wooden