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FEATURE: During Coronavirus, TV2000–the TV that Made Over 13 Million Italians Pray

Listening ‘Boom’ for Italian Bishops TV channel

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In Italy, the Coronavirus emergency has revealed a need for prayer and a quest for spirituality that surprised many observers.

Over 13 million Italians prayed from home by tuning in to Tv2000, the television of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, a press release reported. Italy’s primary Catholic TV channel has been followed by millions of people, who have sought in the faith a way of consolation and reassurance in the face of fear.

The Pope has granted interviews to the TV channel, and they have had series featuring Pope Francis’ participation.

Tv2ooo–which can be streamed worldwide also on internet–has increased its schedule with new prayer appointments, beginning with the 7 am Mass celebrated by Pope Francis in Casa Santa Marta in the Vatican, which reached 12% share peaks.

It had never happened before this crisis that this Mass was broadcast live on TV.

In millions of homes, TVs remained on Channel 28, or on 157, on Sky, or tuned in through computers, smartphones, and tablets connected to the streaming of the website: www.tv2000.it/live.

Among the most successful religious events that have made Tv2000 a point of reference for many faithful are (in Rome time):

  • the Pope’s Mass in Santa Marta at 7 am; the 8:30 am Mass aired from the chapel of the Policlinico Gemelli hospital in Rome (where another hospital dedicated to helping people infected with Coronavirus was set up nearby);
  • the spiritual exercises of Lent preached by theologian, Fr Armando Matteo;
  • catechism for children, entitled ‘Dear Jesus. Together with the children,’ Monday to Saturday at 12:20 and 5:30 pm;
  • the Rosary live from Lourdes at 6 pm; Mass at 7 pm from the Shrine of Divine Love in Rome, popular prayer destination for thousands of faithful every year;
  • the Rosary at 8 pm to Mary Untier of Knots, a prayer dear to Pope Francis who as cardinal of Buenos Aires already brought her from Europe to Argentina.

Other news from the broadcaster includes the ‘Hope Network,’ a program that focuses on the life of the Church in the days of the Coronavirus, broadcast Tuesday to Friday at 7:30 pm.

Need to Hear Trusted Voice – Vicar of Christ

«We greeted with great joy,» the director of Tv2000, Vincenzo Morgante, says, «the decision to turn on the cameras with the live broadcast of the Mass from Santa Marta. We immediately changed the schedule and, the day after, when we were given the availability of the Vatican, we have welcomed this opportunity.»

«And the ratings,» he reflected, «have proven us right. But beyond this, it seems fair to me to emphasize that there was a need to hear a trustful voice, the voice of the Pope, the Vicar of Christ.»

To these set events, others were added, including the Rosary organized by the Italian Church which March 19, the Feast of St. Joseph, at 9 pm recorded a record audience for the Italian bishops TV channel: 12.8% share and over 4 million viewers, with the prime time at 6.91%, obtaining that day, the best figure in its history; 2.42%.

The boom for TV2000’s audience didn’t stop there.

On March 27, Pope Francis’ ‘Urbi et Orbi’ prayer and blessing at 6 pm with the image of St. Peter’s square deserted and, in the rain, reached 10.57% share with over 2.8 million viewers tuned in to Tv2000.

«We are here, we continue to do our job by spending all our professionalism and our commitment,” Director Morgante underlines.

Inspired by Catholic Values

While recognizing «we are in the trenches like all information operators,» he says: «Tv2000 is a television inspired by Catholic values, broadcasted by the Italian bishops, who are committed with all their pastoral strength, together with priests and religious, alongside the faithful, people of good will, citizens, in this difficult period.»

Italy, like the rest of the world, the Director said, has been fighting against Coronavirus, noting that the channel felt compelled to offer viewers more information and religious programs.

Responding to a Spiritual Emergency

«There is a health emergency,» Morgante acknowledged, «but also a spiritual and cultural emergency, which certainly does not concern only those who are believers. This must be taken into account and taken on.»

«For us,» he said, «it means information, ideas, proposals; with those who recognize themselves as people of faith and with those who are on the way, and are looking for answers relating to the deepest sense of human experience.»

Morgante stressed how TV2000 is respecting government guidelines for employee protection.

As a precaution, we have reorganized our work, making extensive use of smart working, thanks to the continuous support of the CEO Massimo Porfiri and the self sacrifice of everyone–working from home or the offices,» he explained.

«Quality, at the moment,» he confirmed, «has not diminished.»

In an afternoon statement today, the Vatican Press Office communicated that they will extend, until April 13th, the measures that have been adopted as a response to the Coronavirus, in line with the recommendations of Italian authorities.

The Holy Father’s activities, this Holy Week, will be done without the physical presence of the faithful, and millions will be joining in, via streaming, from home.

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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': http://www.gracewing.co.uk/page219.html or https://www.amazon.com/Other-Francis-Everything-They-about/dp/0852449348/

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