Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
who are not reached directly by the message of the Church, but who can be reached through the media, so that it is our precise duty to try to use this way, even more so these ways -- because they are many and varied -- for the proclamation of the Gospel.
There is an intense evolution of the media, above all but not only, in the more developed societies and we must be attentive to perceive what new ways we must use to reach our interlocutors better. This attention must be accompanied by wise prudence. Often the new generations or specific groups try new ways of social communication, but others remain attached to their customs and we must not abandon them. The "traditional" media often retain their importance, and it would be absurd to put them aside, allowing oneself be carried away by the fascination of the new technologies, thus abandoning important segments of readers and listeners.
When I reflect on the service of Vatican Radio and try to be aware of the quantitative valuations of the audience, I see that in general, though the audience of the broadcasting stations that re-transmit to us is not very high, it is generally quite superior to the Web's number of visitors.
For example, the Czech Program has a much-visited Web page in relation to the Czech-speaking world, with close 300,000 visits in one year, around 1,000 a day. But the radiophonic program is re-transmitted by a Catholic broadcasting station that has between 50,000 and 90,000 listeners a day. This means that we must be prudent and realistic when evaluating the actual weight of the various media.
But, of course, many young people today use several ways of communication, through the Internet, ipods or mobile phones, etc. And there are full tendencies and great development in this field. We must be able to tap them and find them in these new ways of communication, offering them signs of our presence and answers to their questions or needs. This year's message for the World Day of Social Communications is a strong encouragement in this direction. I will not pause too long on it, because it will be the topic of another of your sessions, however, I will present two observations.
The first: at times the speed of this evolution can make us fearful, we fear to lose contact with history, but we have with us many capable young people, who can help us: we must encourage them to live their time with confidence and we must listen to their proposals. I believe that in this way it is possible to move without agitation and with creativity in the world of the new media. In my case, the new media -- for example, starting the regular use of "podcasting," the production of "videonews" and its publication on YouTube -- have always come to me through my collaborators, and not from myself or my superiors. Also the good flowering of the widespread presence of the Italian Church on the Net certainly comes from the creativity of the grass roots, encouraged and coordinated with suitable initiatives, more than by a strategy imposed from above.
The second observation: Personally, I try very hard to keep a continuity of evolution in communication and to give an image of integration of its services: from the most traditional media to the newest, but also from the newest to the most traditional. From the news of RV (Vatican Radio) and of the CTV (Vatican Television Center) we have tried to amplify our presence by using YouTube, but in the home page of the Vatican's channel on YouTube we have presented a link system that links the visitors in such a way that they have possibilities for more profound information, offered by the traditional media and their Web: more ample and complete news on the life of the Church and on the present times, full texts of the Pope's addresses and documents, accessing the official Web Site of the Vatican's documentation, and coordination between the media and the Holy See. Next time I will let you know if we have been able to obtain better results.
A Christian and Ecclesial View of Information
Let us now reflect a bit on our mission, our task as people in charge of Catholic media and, specifically, of media and communication at the service of the Church, in her universal and local dimensions. It is important to see that, in our situation, it is not something that we ourselves have sought or that we have invented for ourselves, but a task that has been entrusted to us by the Church. Personally, it is something that I feel and live with great intensity; I believe it is the same for you.
At the same time, what we communicate by request of the Church is not an abstract message, removed from the real life of the people, of our brothers and sisters among whom and for whom we live. From this derives a certain "philosophy" of information that characterizes, for example, the international news of Vatican Radio and, it seems to me, now also with ...
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