John Paul II’s Relation With TV in Focus

Congress Draws 60 Specialists

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 6, 2006 ( Sixty international specialists are spending two days focusing on the television coverage of Pope John Paul II’s pontificate.

“John Paul II: Religious Event, Television Event” is the title of the congress organized by Italian public radio and television (RAI), at the Gregorian University. Experts are addressing the most significant moments of his pontificate.

Archbishop John Foley, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, said: “The late Pope John Paul II knew how to use television and to open all of his public life to television coverage, but he never sought to manipulate television; he respected television professionals.

“On one occasion about 15 years ago, an American cardinal was presenting something to the late Holy Father and he asked if the television station from his city could record the event. The Holy Father replied: ‘Of course! If it doesn’t happen on television, it doesn’t happen!'”

Alfredo Meocci, director general of RAI, said that John Paul II was not anxious to hide his suffering from the cameras, “to the point that he made television his cross.”

Emilio Rossi, president of the Vatican Television Center, recalled John Paul II’s words to journalists during the Jubilee Year 2000: “Your task is almost sacred.”

Armando Fumagalli, professor of semiotics at the Catholic University of Milan, underlined how “John Paul II did not address the anonymous mass but the multitude, which is a community.”

Monsignor Enrique Planas, delegate of the Vatican Film Library, revealed that “the Holy Father saw many films at our headquarters; so we saw the Holy Father in privacy, a Pope who wept in the face of certain scenes.” The congress ends Friday.

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