Print Edition: Feb. 22, 2015
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BY FATHER ALFONSO AGUILAR, LC
A year ago, Pope
Benedict showed that there’s one part of John Paul’s pontificate he wants to
repeat: the former Pope’s use of the media.
On April 23, 2005, four days after
being elected to the See of Peter, the Holy Father met with journalists,
photographers and television technicians.
“Certainly, John Paul II was a
great pioneer of this open and sincere dialogue, together with you, workers in
the field of social communications, with whom he maintained constant and
fruitful relations throughout the more than 26 years of his pontificate,” said
Benedict on that occasion. “It is my desire to continue this fruitful dialogue,
and in this way I share an observation made by John Paul II: ‘The current
phenomenon of communications impels the Church toward a sort of pastoral and
cultural revision, so as to deal adequately with the times in which we live.’”
In his Jan. 24 message for the
40th World Communications Day titled “The Media: A Network for Communication,
Communion and Cooperation,” the Holy Father proposed three steps for a
constructive use and view of the media:
" First, “formation in the responsible and critical use” of the media.
" Second, “a spirit of cooperation and co-responsibility with vigorous
accountability for the use of public resources and the performance of roles of
" Third, “promotion of dialogue through the exchange of learning, the expression
of solidarity and the espousal of peace.”
On March 3, Pope Benedict visited
Vatican Radio headquarters to mark the station’s 75th anniversary. He praised
the organization for its efforts to evangelize and to offer pastoral support
and comfort, especially to Catholics and missionaries in remote areas and
In effect, six years after its
foundation, Vatican Radio broadcasted in six different languages. It expanded
its programming in 1949 and 1950 to Arabic and Chinese, respectively. During
the Cold War, it delivered news and the Gospel message in 17 Central and
Eastern European languages. Today, its programs are a lifeline for the
unofficial Catholic Church in China
and other persecuted lands.
Broadcasting now in 45 languages,
Vatican Radio is, as Pope Benedict called it, “a chorus of voices” that can
“dialogue with different cultures and religions.”
“In cooperation with parents, the
social communications and entertainment industries can assist in the difficult
but sublimely satisfying vocation of bringing up children, through presenting
edifying models of human life and love,” Benedict said in his March 17 address
to the Council for Social Communications. “How disheartening and destructive it
is to us all when the opposite occurs! Do not our hearts cry out, most
especially when our young people are subjected to debased or false expressions
of love which ridicule the God-given dignity of the human person and undermine
To solve the problem, the popes
taught us not to lament but rather to take action.
First and foremost, we should
count upon the help of the Holy Spirit.
“Such help is all the more
necessary,” John Paul wrote in his apostolic letter “The Rapid Development,”
“when one considers how greatly the obstacles intrinsic to communication can be
increased by ideologies, by the desire for profit or for power, and by
rivalries and conflicts between individuals and groups, and also because of
human weakness and social troubles.”
We should then use the media
intelligently, professionally, courageously.
“Do not be afraid of new
technologies,” the Holy Father exhorted in the same document. They are
marvelous things that “God has placed at our disposal to discover, to use and
to make known the truth, also the truth about our dignity and about our destiny
as his children, heirs of his eternal Kingdom. Do not be afraid of being
opposed by the world. Jesus has assured us, ‘I have conquered the world’ (John
16:33). Do not be afraid even of your own weakness and inadequacy.”
To do this, we may be inspired by
Vatican Radio. During his visit to its headquarters, Pope Benedict was given a
brand new 2-gigabyte digital audio player loaded with special Vatican Radio
programming and classical music. With his new iPod,
the Pope can access the radio’s daily podcasts in
eight languages, as well as download music and audio books from the Internet.
Benedict was impressed by the tiny
but significant gift.
“Computer technology is the
future,” he reportedly said to Mauro Milita, the head
of the radio’s technical and computer support department.
We know the Pope is right. The new
technology of the media is ever more influential in the formation of our minds
We are then urged to work in what
the Holy Father called “the great areopagus of modern
Pope Benedict invited the Vatican
Radio staff to treasure the extraordinary experience of the great Jubilee of
the Year 2000 and especially that of the death of beloved Pope John Paul II —
“an event that showed humanity’s eagerness to be acquainted with the reality of
Last year, we witnessed the
media’s impressive coverage of John Paul’s death and burial, as well as of
People thirst for the truth and
the good. People thirst for Christ’s salvific
We should not be slow to use, as
Pope Pius XI used, innovative ways to spread that message throughout the world.
We should not be afraid of
exploiting, like the 20th-century popes, the God-given gift of new technology.
If we follow the popes’
exhortation and courage, we will be able to tell the Lord that we have
literally obeyed his command: “Go into all the world
and proclaim the good news to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15).
Legionary Father Alfonso Aguilar
teaches philosophy at Rome’s
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