Saturday, January 24, 2009

Vatican's Media Day Message

January 24 (feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron of the Catholic press) is the day the Vatican usually announces the them and releases an official message for the "World Day of Social Communication," which falls on the 7th Sunday of Easter.
This year, the Holy See sent out TWO messages.
The first message was the inauguration of a Vatican channel on YouTube. The content is from the official Vatican TV center.
The second message was the usual long text on the theme, which for 2009 is on social networking.
Here's the rest of the story, from the Vatican Information Service:


VATICAN CITY, 23 JAN 2009 (VIS) - This morning in the Holy See Press Office, the Message for the 43rd World Day of Social Communications was presented. The theme this year is: "New Technologies, New Relationships: Promoting a culture of Respect, Dialogue and Friendship".

Participating in today's press conference were Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli and Msgr. Paul Tighe, respectively president and secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications; Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., director of Vatican Radio, of the Vatican Television Centre (CTV) and of the Holy See Press Office, and Henrique de Castro, Managing Director of Media Solutions for Google.

In his remarks Archbishop Celli underlined the fact that this year's Message represents "a real watershed" because, he said, "the theme itself guides us along the path of novelty, not only by focusing on new technologies but by exploring their effects. It does so by addressing the 'digital generation', thus appealing directly to the young".

"The cordial tone is the first distinctive feature of a Message which provides ... ample evidence of an open and positive attitude, even defining the new technologies as 'truly a gift to humanity'. ... The Message also accentuates the values that distinguish such an environment, in the first place that of friendship and of the networks of relationships that new technologies have now made possible".

"Yet the range of benefits is even greater and also spreads into the sphere of family relationships (families can eliminate differences more easily), and into that of study and even of scientific research which cannot but draw advantage from the continuous breaking down of barriers" by people working together while geographically distant from one another.

"Truly, we are facing a new world", the archbishop concluded. A world "to be explored not by opening our eyes in amazement before new technological advances, but by opening our hearts and giving room to hope in the face of the great possibilities for the common good opening before us. This is even more important if we consider that the Message also examines certain dangers, associated not just with media distortion but with inequality in the uses to which the media may be put. One is reminded of that 'digital divide' which cannot but be a cause for concern, precisely because the new technologies must be considered as primary resources for human development and promotion".

"Never before, perhaps, has a Message been so powerful but also so challenging".

For his part Msgr. Tighe highlighted how the Message "celebrates the capacity of the new technologies to foster and support good and healthy relationships and various forms of solidarity. It appeals to friendship as a motive to ensure that the new digital world is truly accessible to all. It finds in friendship a shared reference point with all of humanity that grounds the appeal of the Message to promote a culture where there is respect for all and where all are invited to search for truth in dialogue".

Fr. Lombardi announced the creation of a new Vatican channel on YouTube, through which various forms of video news will be available concerning the activities of the Pope and events in the Vatican. The site will be updated with one or two news pieces each day, none longer than two minutes, he said. For the moment, the languages available are English, Spanish, German and Italian.

The web page of the new channel, he explained, contains various links via which the visitor can find more information and documentation on the Pope, the Vatican and the Catholic Church. The main links connect to the multi-lingual web pages of CTV and Vatican Radio, to the Vatican and to the new site of Vatican City State. "Of particular importance", said Fr. Lombardi, "is the link to H2O News which transmits other video news items on the life of the Church in the world".

He went on: "Further links under the main video give access to other Vatican news sources: in each linguistic sub-channel is a link to the web page of Vatican Radio in that language, to the web page of the Holy See Press Office Bulletin (with complete texts in original language), and to that language's edition of the 'Osservatore Romano' newspaper".

In the light of the possibility offered by YouTube to exchange information, establish relationships, etc., "we will consider how best to administer this 'global' flow of comments and replies", said the Holy See Press Office Director.

"The Pope", he concluded, "was personally informed of our project, and gave his approval with his usual courtesy and graciousness. For us this is a great encouragement".


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