By Claudia Soberon and Miriam Díez i Bosch
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 19, 2008 (Zenit.org).- What makes a radio station Catholic? And what can make Catholic radio more effective? These are some of the questions being reflected upon by a Vatican-sponsored conference under way in Rome.
The Pontifical Council for Social Communications opened today the first world congress of Catholic radio stations. The council’s president, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, told ZENIT that the conference has brought together people from some 50 countries representing 63 stations to “talk together, reflect and understand what the identity and mission of a Catholic radio station is in today’s world.”
The congress runs through Saturday at the Pontifical Urbanian University.
“The guests will not just hear conferences but will have the opportunity to talk among themselves in virtue of what is suggested by some round-table discussions,” Archbishop Celli explained. “It will be very important that all the participants, who come from different contexts, from Asia to Africa, from Latin America to Europe and Australia, meet to discuss and rediscover their identity and mission.”
This event seeks to analyze the present with sights set on the future, the prelate said, so that initiatives arise “that little by little make the service of a Catholic radio station in the world more efficient.”
Noting how the Internet has changed the world of media, Archbishop Celli said, “I believe we must discover what is in store for us.”
Archbishop Angelo Amato, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, gave the inaugural address today.
The prelate suggested that despite the widespread use of TV, “radio still has its strength and usefulness.”
“Jesus arrived as a great master of communication of the word,” Archbishop Amato said. “For him, three years were enough to educate his disciples, not only to listen to his word, but above all, to live with him and for him.”
Radio, the Vatican official continued, is the “modern pulpit of the word of God.” And the chance to receive the word of God on the radio is “a privileged way of communicating the Word.”
“The benefit of radio comes from the freedom that it leaves to the listener, who is drawn in not so much from the obligation to hear, but from fascination with the word,” the prelate noted. From here arises the need for communication to be “clear, professional and accompanied by the testimony of an existence coherent with the evangelical message.”
For Archbishop Amato, “the microphone of Catholic radio could be considered a modern version of the pulpit.”
“It is about an authentic and personal spirituality of listening,” he added, “[to which should correspond] a spirituality of communication.”
After his address, the prelate clarified that “this service of the Word also implies building up the listeners with indications from the magisterium of the Church, above all, with the words of the Pope.”
He highlighted the importance of a variety of programs, all in harmony with one another.
In this line, the archbishop said, this “Catholic pluralism” should continuously motivate the “personal experience of faith faced with the challenges of contemporary culture, [such as] the challenge of abortion, divorce, biotechnology, [and] biopolitics with government interventions that do not seem adequate regarding man and respect for humanity.”