Vatican Media Watch

Pope Benedict Helps Vatican Radio Mark Milestone

AGI, March 3 — Pope Benedict thanked Vatican Radio for helping Christian communities oppressed by communism during a visit to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the organization, the news service Agenzia Giornalistica Italia reported.

During his visit, the Holy Father also thanked the Jesuit fathers for creating it along with the many who have worked for it. He stated that thanks to the Second Vatican Council there is a greater awareness of the importance of the media’s role in spreading the Church’s message today. In particular, he said, that role includes satellite and Internet communications.

The Pope told the staff of 400 that a certain level of technical and professional competence was necessary for their work, but even more so they needed a spirit of prayer and loyalty to the teaching of Christ and his Church.

Before departing, the Holy Father gave a blessing: “May the Virgin Mary forever protect you, the treasure of the New Evangelization.”

Vatican Issues Defense of Gypsies

ANSA, Feb. 28 — Admitting its own past prejudices, the Vatican championed the rights of gypsies and called on governments to improve the shunned nomads’ lot, the Italian news service reported.

Presenting a new document on the transient people, Cardinal Stephen Fumio Hamao said while they had a right to their identity as a traveling people, they frequently met with “indifference or opposition.”

Gypsies, as a specific ethnic group, are believed to originate in northwest India. Numbering about 15 million in Europe, they are known by different names such as Roma, Sinti, Manouches, Kalé, Gitans and Yeniches.

“Many in fact share habitual prejudices towards them,” said Cardinal Hamao, who heads the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerants. “Signs of rejection persist, often without eliciting any reaction or protest from those who witness them.”
The report, Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of Gypsies, said gypsies were a people “abandoned by men but not by God,” and outlined the “special pastoral approach” that the Catholic Church intended to adopt to help them.

Vatican Urges Muslims to Respect Christians

GULF TIMES, Feb. 26 — The Vatican is urging Islamic countries to show more tolerance towards their Christian minorities, after backing calls by Muslims for greater respect for their religion, the Qatar-based newspaper reported.

When Western newspapers reprinted the caricatures of the prophet Mohammed, Catholic leaders at first said Muslims were right to be outraged. After criticizing both the cartoons and the violent protests in Muslim countries that followed, the Vatican last month linked the issue to its long-standing concern that the rights of other faiths are limited, sometimes severely, in certain Muslim countries.

“If we tell our people they have no right to offend, we have to tell the others they have no right to destroy us,” Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, told journalists in Rome.

Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, the Vatican’s foreign minister, said, “We must always stress our demand for reciprocity [allowing Christian minorities the same rights as Muslims generally have in Western countries] in political contacts with authorities in Islamic countries and, even more, in cultural contacts.”