Pope's Address to European Broadcasting Union

«Promote Dialogue, Peace and Development of Peoples in Solidarity»

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 2, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered Saturday in French and English to the 17th Assembly of the European Broadcasting Union, gathered at Castel Gandolfo as guests of Vatican Radio, which is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year.

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[In French, he said:]

Dear Friends,

I am very happy to welcome you all, members and participants on the 17th assembly of the European Broadcasting Union, which, this year, is the guest of Vatican Radio, on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of its foundation. I greet archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. I thank the president of the European Broadcasting Union, Monsignor Jean Paul Philippot, and Father Federico Lombardi, director general of Vatican Radio, for the courteous words with which they presented the nature of your meeting and the problems you must address.

When my predecessor Pius XI asked Guglielmo Marconi to equip Vatican City State with a broadcasting station provided with the best technology available at that time, he demonstrated having perceived with lucidity in what direction the world of communications was developing and the potentialities that the radio could offer for the service of the mission of the Church. Indeed, through the radio, the Popes were able to transmit beyond the borders messages of great importance for humanity, as those rightly famous of Pius XII during World War II, which gave voice to the most profound aspirations for justice and peace, or as that of John XXIII at the culminating moment of the crisis between the United States and the Soviet Union in 1962.

Through the radio, Pius XII was also able to diffuse hundreds of thousands of messages of families to the address of prisoners and those who had disappeared during the War, carrying out a humanitarian endeavor which won him imperishable gratitude. Sustained for a long time through the radio, moreover, were the attempts of believers and of peoples subjected to oppressive regimes to uphold human rights and religious liberty. The Holy See is conscious of the extraordinary potentialities of which the world of communication disposes for the progress and growth of persons and society. It can be said that all the teaching of the Church in this sector, beginning with the addresses of Pius XII, and passing through the documents of Vatican Council II, up to my most recent messages on the new numerical technologies, is traversed by a current of optimism, of hope and of sincere sympathy for those who are engaged in this domain to foster encounter and dialogue, to serve the human community and to contribute to the peaceful growth of society.

Each one of you knows of course that, hidden in the development of social communications, are difficulties and risks.

Hence, allow me to manifest to all of you my interest and solidarity for the important work that you accomplish. In today’s society, basic values for the good of humanity are at stake, and public opinion, in whose formation your work has great importance, often finds itself disoriented and divided. You know well the concerns of the Church on the subject of respect of human life, of defense of the family, of the recognition of authentic rights and the just aspirations of peoples, of imbalances caused by underdevelopment and hunger in numerous parts of the world, of the reception of immigrants, of unemployment and of social security, of new poverties and social marginalizations, of discrimination and violations of religious liberty, of disarmament and the search for a peaceful solution to conflicts. I made reference to many of these questions in the Encyclical ‘Caritas in Veritate.’ To nourish every day correct and balanced information and an in-depth debate in order to find the best shared solutions to these questions in a pluralist society, is the task of radios as well as television stations. It is a task that requires great professional honesty, correctness and respect, openness to different prospects, clarity in the treatment of problems, liberty in regard to ideological barriers and awareness of the complexity of the problems.

It is a question of a patient search for this «daily truth» which translates better the values in life and directs better the path of society, and which is sought with humility by all.

[In English, he said:]

In this search, the Catholic Church has a specific contribution to offer, which she intends to offer by witnessing to her adherence to the truth that is Christ, yet doing so in a spirit of openness and dialogue. As I said during my meeting with leading figures from the worlds of British culture and politics at Westminster Hall in London last September, religion does not seek to manipulate non-believers, but to assist reason in the discovery of objective moral principles. Religion contributes by «purifying» reason, helping it not to fall prey to distortions, such as manipulation by ideology or partial application that fails to take full account of the dignity of the human person. At the same time, religion likewise recognizes its need for the corrective of reason in order to avoid excesses, such as fundamentalism or sectarianism. «Religion … is not a problem for legislators to solve, but a vital contributor to the national conversation.» I therefore invite you too, «within your respective spheres of influence, to seek ways of promoting and encouraging dialogue between faith and reason» with a view to serving the common good of the nation.

Yours is a «public service,» a service to the people, to help them each day to know and understand better what is happening and why it is happening, and to communicate actively so as to accompany then in society’s journey together. I am well aware that this service meets with difficulties that take on different features and proportions in different countries. These can include the challenge of competition from commercial broadcasters, the conditioning of politics understood as the carving up of power rather than service of the common good, scarcity of economic resources made more acute by situations of crisis, the impact of developments in new technologies of communication, the laborious search for viewers and listeners. But the challenges of the modern world on which you have to report are too great and too urgent to let yourselves become discouraged or tempted to give up in the face of such difficulties.

Twenty years ago, in 1991, when your general assembly was received in the Vatican by the Venerable John Paul II, whom tomorrow I shall have the joy of beatifying, he encouraged you to develop your mutual collaboration in order to favor the growth of the community of the peoples of the world.

Today, I think of the processes unfolding in certain countries of the Mediterranean and the Middle East, some of which are also members of your association. We know that the new forms of communication continue to play a role of some significance in these very processes. I urge you to place your international contacts and activities at the service of reflection and commitment aimed at ensuring that the instruments of social communication promote dialogue, peace and development of peoples in solidarity, overcoming cultural separation, uncertainties and fears.

Finally, dear friends, while I sincerely wish all of you and your Association much success in your work, I would also like to express my thanks for the specific collaboration that on many occasions you have provided for my ministry, and that you continue to provide, during the great festivals of Christmas and Easter, or on my apostolic journeys. For me too, and for the Catholic Church, you are therefore important allies and friends in our mission. In this spirit I am pleased to invoke the Lord’s blessing upon all of you, upon those who are dear to you and upon your work.

[Translation by ZENIT]
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