Here is a translation of the message that Pope Francis sent to the Director of the Vatican Television Center (CTV), Monsignor Dario Edoardo Vigano, and to the participants in the “Thirty Years of the Vatican Television Center: TV That Relates the Pope to the World” Conference, organized on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the institutions of the broadcasting station.
To the Most Reverend Monsignor Dario Edoardo Vigano
Director of the Vatican Television Center
I wish to give my cordial greeting to all those present at the Congress which is remembering not only the thirty years of the Vatican Television Center but, above all, is reflecting on the prospects for an ever more attentive and qualified service. I greet the reporters and guests, in particular Monsignor Claudio Maria Celli and the members of the Administrative Council.
First of all I would like to stress that your work is a service to the Gospel and to the Church. The CTV’s anniversary is set in the background of another important event: the fifty years of the approval of the Conciliar Decree Inter Mirifica, which numbers among the wonderful gifts of God, the instruments of social communication including, precisely, television. The words of the Conciliar Fathers seem prophetic to us; in fact they stressed the importance of the use of these means, so that “as salt and light they fecundate and illuminate the world,” taking the light of Jesus Christ and contributing to the progress of the whole of humanity.
In these decades technology has traveled at great speed, creating unexpected interconnected networks. It is necessary to keep the evangelical perspective in this sort of “global highway of communication,” to always have present the end that Blessed John Paul II wished to establish by giving life to the CTV: to foster “an ever more effective action of the Church in regard to social communications … in order to offer new instruments in which to carry out the mission of the Church in the world (Rescript of October 22, 1983). As Benedict XVI reminded you: “by putting images at the disposition of the largest global television agencies and the great national and commercial television <stations>, you foster appropriate and timely information on the life and teaching of the Church in today’s world, at the service of the dignity of the human person, of justice, of dialogue and of peace” (Address to CTV, December 18, 2008). Do not forget, therefore, that yours is an ecclesial service within the evangelizing mission of the Church.
Because of this – and this is the second element I would like to stress -- in presenting the events your point of view can never be “worldly” but ecclesial. We live in a world in which practically nothing exists that does not have something to do with the universe of the media. Ever more sophisticated instruments reinforce the increasingly pervasive role played by technologies, languages and ways of communication in the unfolding of our daily life, and this not only in the world of youth. As I recalled the day after my election as Bishop of Rome, meeting in fact with representatives of the various means of social communication, present in Rome on the occasion of the Conclave, “the role of the mass media has always been growing in these last times, so much so that it has become indispensable to narrate to the world the events of contemporary history.” All this is reflected also in the life of the Church. However, if it is not simple to recount the events of history, it is even more complex to recount the events connected with the Church, which is “sign and instrument of the profound union with God,” and Body of Christ, People of God, Temple of the Holy Spirit. This requires a particular responsibility, a strong capacity to read the reality in a spiritual key. In fact, the events of the Church “have a particular underlying characteristic: they respond to a logic which is not primarily that of worldly categories, so to
speak, and precisely because of this it is not easy to interpret them and to communicate them to a vast and variegated public.” (Address to the Representatives of the Media, March 18, 2013). To talk of responsibility, of a respectful view of events that one wishes to recount, means to also have the awareness that the selection, organization, the putting on the air and the sharing of contents requires particular care because they use instruments which are neither neutral nor transparent. This awareness permeates the CTV today, committed to a reorganization in keeping with technological paradigms in order to serve all areas of the world better, contributing to foster the far reaching catholicity of the Church. I would like to give you, Monsignor Dario Edoardo Vigano, and all the staff of the CTV, my heartfelt thanks for the capacity to weave relations with the different realities of the whole world, to build bridges, surmounting walls and ditches , and to take the light of the Gospel. All this according to the indication of Inter Mirifica which specifies how also in the world of the media the efficacy of the apostolic activity requires “the union of aims and forces” (n. 21). To converge rather than to compete is the strategy of the media initiatives in the Catholic world.
Finally, I would like to remind you that you do not carry out a purely documentary function, “neutral” of events, but you contribute to bring the Church closer to the world, closing the distances, making the Pope’s words reach millions of Catholics, also there where often to profess one’s faith is a courageous choice. Thanks to the images, CTV is walking with the Pope to bring Christ to the many forms of solitude of contemporary man, reaching also the “sophisticated technological peripheries.” In this, your mission, it is important to recall that the Church is present in the world of communication, in all its varied expressions, above all to lead persons to the encounter with the Lord Jesus. In fact, it is only the encounter with Jesus that can transform the heart and history of man. I thank you and encourage you to proceed with confidence in your witness of the Gospel, dialoguing with a world that is in need of being listened to, of being understood, but also of receiving the message of true life.
Let us pray to the Lord that He make us capable of reaching the heart of man, beyond the barriers of diffidence and let us ask Our Lady to watch over our steps of “pilgrims of communication.” I ask you to pray for me, I need it! I invoke the intercession of Saint Clare, Patroness of television and I accompany you with my Blessing.
From the Vatican, October 18, 2013