ROME NOTES: A Press Office at Age 50; Lateran Palace on Display
Media Relations Have Come a Long Way
By Delia Gallagher
ROME, DEC. 25, 2003 (Zenit) - The first journalists were angels, according to Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, who spoke at a Mass in Rome on Sunday celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Vatican press office.
My, how times have changed, one is tempted to say.
"Something new was born in the history of humanity," said the cardinal referring to the news that Mary would bear a Son. "And the news was rendered by unusual journalists -- the angels."
The first Vatican press service was instituted in 1953, by the then secretary of state, Monsignor Giovanni Battista Montini (the future Pope Paul VI), as an arm of L'Osservatore Romano. It accredited select Italian journalists, from papers known to be friendly to the Holy See.
Giancarlo Zizola, longtime Italian vaticanista, recounted at a press conference following the Mass that the first Vatican journalists (about a handful) were kept in a room off the Cortile San Damaso, from where they could see those arriving for an audience with the Pope, but were not allowed any free movement throughout the Vatican.
In 1966, Paul VI (whose father was a journalist) established the Press Office of the Holy See, as it is formally called.
Joaquín Navarro-Valls, papal spokesman and director of the Vatican press office, spoke of changes since the founding of the press office.
"The majority of accredited journalists to the Vatican are now non-Italian," said Spanish-born Navarro-Valls. "The worldwide interest on the part of the media in religious and moral themes and in this Pope in particular is extraordinary."
"For the October anniversary celebrations," said Navarro-Valls, "we temporarily accredited more than 3,000 journalists from around the world."
Another important change is that Navarro-Valls is the first press office director with direct access to the Holy Father.
"I have seen in the personal attitude of the Holy Father that he is not at all of the mentality of using the press, but of participating with the press," the spokesman said.
"The Holy Father has always been perfectly available to join the conversations in the press," he added, "and he has known how to do it."
Navarro-Valls emphasized that the policy of the Holy See, following John Paul II, is to work with the world's media in spreading the Vatican's message, not to use them for purposes of receiving good press.
"We are not like some politicians who complain about the media, but use it anyway to get flattering articles written about them," said Navarro-Valls.
* * *
A Palace Worth Storming
Tourists in Rome often do a better job of seeing the sites than many of us who live here year-round. Those of you who live in Rome, and those who are planning to come, should not miss the chance to see the beautiful "nobile" rooms of the Lateran Palace at the Basilica of St. John Lateran.
Father Pietro Amato guided a group of Vatican journalists through the old papal residence, rebuilt by Sixtus V (1585-1590) after the original palace had been lost to fire and decay when the popes took up residence in the Vatican, after the exile in Avignon.
"The Lateran is above earthly things," Father Amato said, quoting Dante as he pointed out the frescoed walls and ceilings of the 10-room apartments.
The grandest room, "the Sistine Chapel of the Lateran," as Father Amato called it, was the site of the signing of the 1929 Lateran Treaty granting sovereignty by Italy to Vatican City. A copy of the treaty, bearing original signatures, is on display.
The noble floor also contains a myriad of delightful artifacts from past papal households such as the desk of Pius VII, the beautiful gold writing trays with pen and ink holders of Pius VIII and Pius IX, and the red velvet pagoda used to carry John XXIII.
Also on display are the elaborate costumes worn by members of the papal household in the 18th and 19th centuries. There is the black lace cape and dress uniform of the marshals of the conclave, the red silk of the chair carriers, and even an elegant outfit worn by the superintendent of the post office.
Sixteenth-century liturgical vestments of Paul V are on display near the apartment chapel, which houses several paintings given to John Paul II during his trip to the Middle East.
A collection of spears and armor from the 18th-century Italian forces are mixed in with more uniforms of military men under the pope.
"They never fired a shot," said Father Amato.
The apartments look out onto the Lateran Square, which boasts an obelisk taller than the one at St. Peter's and a loggia, which is bigger.
Beginning in January, the museum will be open every day except Sunday, with guided tours on the hour, in the mornings.
The Vatican Museums are raising their entrance fee to 12 euros ($14.80) from 10 euro in January, but a ticket to the Lateran Museum will be included in the price.
http://www.catholic.org CA, US
Catholic Online - Publisher, 661 869-1000
Rome, Press, Media
More Catholic PRWire
Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718
A Recession Antidote
Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell
Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell
Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Franchising to Evangelize
Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Three words to a deeper faith
Relections for Lent 2009
Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell
World Food Program Director on Lent
Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Glimpse of Me
The 3 stages of life
Sex and the Married Woman
A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Modernity & Morality
Just a Minute
Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Edging God Out
Burying a St. Joseph Statue
George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell
Easter... A Way of Life
Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
by Catholic Online
- Museum of the Bible set to open in D.C., will be one of the city's ...
- Daily Readings for Wednesday, October 18, 2017
- Callista Gingrich is the next U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican
- Daily Reading for Thursday, October 19th, 2017 HD Video
- St. Luke: Saint of the Day for Wednesday, October 18, 2017
- Museum of the Bible to open in Washington D.C., here's what you want ...
- Missionary priest kidnapped in Nigeria
- Virgin Mary appears to Hindu schoolchildren in India, miracles reported HD
- Daily Reading for Wednesday, October 18th, 2017 HD
- Intro to Novena to the Saints in Heaven for the saints on earth HD
- Trump ends taxpayer giveaway to insurance companies HD
Learn about Catholic world
Inform - Inspire - Ignite
Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained
Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need
Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online
Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye
Today's bible reading
Products and services we offer
Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books
The California Network
Inspiring streaming service
Learn the Catholic way