VATICAN CITY, FEB. 13, 2001 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II helped Vatican Radio celebrate its 70th birthday, urging its staff not to be discouraged by limited resources or even their own limitations.
The broadcasting station transmits the Pope´s voice to all continents, but particularly to countries where Christians are persecuted.
The Holy Father met with Vatican Radio´s 400 employees, including 200 journalists of 58 different nationalities, to celebrate the occasion.
The Pope asked them to evangelize through radio waves. “To evangelize through radio means to offer information that is professionally impeccable, which, in the implicit and explicit reporting of events, becomes a daily catechesis linked to life and the recipient´s hope,” he said, amid applause.
“This evangelizing action needs continual efforts of adaptation, updating, but also of solid human, cultural and professional formation combined with firm spiritual and missionary motivations,” the Pontiff added.
John Paul II said that his work as Bishop of Rome relies on the help of those who work in Vatican Radio, therefore, he exhorted them: “Do not be discouraged by difficulties, limited resources, and your own limitations. Do not be disturbed by the accelerated change of settings, structures, methods and ways of living.”
“You are not alone: You are in the heart of the Church. You are always present in my concern and daily prayer,” the Holy Father concluded.
Vatican Radio was born in a turbulent age, when the regimes of some countries restricted the Church´s freedom of expression. Once the Lateran Pacts were signed between the Church and the Italian state in 1929, Pius XI entrusted Guiglielmo Marconi, inventor of the radio, with creating a radio station within the new Vatican state, which would enable the Bishop of Rome to communicate with the whole world.
A few months later, the scientist went to a meeting with the Pope, virtually trembling. “I have the highest honor of announcing that within a few instants the Supreme Pontiff Pius XI will inaugurate the Radio Station of Vatican City State,” Marconi said. “The electrical waves will transmit his word of peace and blessing through space to the whole world.”
The Pope´s first message was in Latin. It read: “Hear, O Heavens, what I am about to say, listen, earth, to the word of my mouth … hear and listen, O distant peoples ….” It was exactly 4:49 p.m. on Feb. 12, 1931. Vatican Radio, one of the most important media for the Catholic Church, had started.
Vatican Radio now transmits for more than 60 hours, in 40 languages, to all areas of the world. In some countries, such as China and Vietnam, and in some Arab nations, it is the only Catholic means of communication that persecuted Christians can hear, and the only channel transmitting the Pope´s voice. During the Cold War years, it was also the conscience of the universal Church among Catholics residing in Soviet satellites.
Vatican Radio has just undergone a technological transformation. In addition to transmitting in short, medium and modulated frequency waves, it has launched its signal through two satellites — INTELSAT 62oEst (Indian), INTELSAT 325,5o Est (Atlantic) — each with two channels.
The satellite makes it possible for other radio broadcasting stations in the world, and not just Catholic ones, to include Vatican Radio programs in their transmissions. This offer, made in recent years, has had unexpected success in Latin America, which is full of radios transmitting the international news program in Spanish.
In addition, Vatican Radio has three Internet sites. The official site is http://www.radiovaticana.org, from which one can hear its programs live or recorded, or have access to written information.