VATICAN CITY, FEB. 21, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Programming in Arabic and key Asian languages has become the new priority for Vatican Radio, its directors say.
A press conference was held in the Vatican today on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the papal broadcasting station. Participants included Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, general director of Vatican Radio.
The priest said that the mission of Vatican Radio consists in “freely, faithfully and efficiently announcing the Christian message and uniting the various countries of the world to the center of Catholicism.”
He confirmed that Benedict XVI will visit the home office of the station March 3, to celebrate its anniversary.
For his part, Jesuit Father Andrzej Koprowski, the new programming director, mentioned some of the challenges facing Vatican Radio.
Among the “priority frontiers” for the station, the priest said, is that of “the Arab language and culture, which are no longer exclusively found in the Middle East, but also in other regions of Europe and the world.”
“Another priority frontier for today is the Asian one,” he said. “We well know of the development of the Church in India and are aware of the role played by Christianity in India for the future of the universal Church.
“As well, we are aware of the importance that they develop and keep open the ‘universal’ ties between the Church in India, the Holy See, and the particular Churches in the other continents.”
Father Koprowski also mentioned “the vital need of the Church to dialogue with and understand the cultures of the other countries on the vast Asian continent: China, Japan, Vietnam, etc.”
Another strategic opportunity, he said, is the new “cultural and religious situation” in post-communist European countries.
Both Father Lombardi and Father Koprowski underlined the possibilities Internet offers. Written and audio information in 30 languages is already available on the Web page, (www.radiovaticana.org. Programs are broadcasted by radio in 40 languages.
According to information given at the press conference, Vatican Radio employs 384 people (269 men and 115 women). Among them are 34 priests and nine religious.
The station has 13,000 hours of papal addresses in its audio archives.
Vatican Radio’s annual budget runs about €20 million to €25 million ($23.8 million to $29.8 million), of which 57% goes for salaries.