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Friday, March 3, 2006


VATICAN CITY, MAR 3, 2006 (VIS) - This morning, Benedict XVI visited the headquarters of Vatican Radio, which this year is celebrating its 75th anniversary. The station was inaugurated in 1931 under the pontificate of Pius IX, and all Popes since then have visited its headquarters at least once during their pontificates, with the exception of John Paul I, the brevity of whose pontificate did not enable him to do so.

  Benedict XVI was welcomed by the three directors of Vatican Radio: Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., director general, Fr. Andrej Koprowski S.J., director of programs, and Alberto Gasbarri, technical and administrative director.

  The Pope went first to the fourth floor of the Radio building in order to bless a plaque with the inscription "Cardinal Karol Wojtyla" affixed to the wall of recording studio 3, in which the last pontiff had taped various interviews in the days when he was still a cardinal. After the blessing, Benedict XVI sat before the microphones in the same studio and delivered some off-the-cuff remarks which were transmitted live.

  "Today the voice of Vatican Radio can reach to every part of the world, to many homes," he said. "There is above all great reciprocity, not only speaking but also welcoming replies, in a true dialogue that aims to understand and respond, and so to build the family of God. This, I feel, is the significance of a means of communication such as this: to help build the great family that knows no frontiers and in which, with their multiplicity of languages and cultures, all are brothers and sisters and thus represent a force for peace. I would like everyone now listening to me to feel they are truly involved in this great dialogue of truth. In the world of the communications media there is no lack, as we know, of contrasting voices. So it is all the more important that this voice should exist, which truly desires to place itself at the service of truth and of Christ, thus placing itself at the service of peace and reconciliation in the world."

  The Pope continued his visit by greeting the editorial staff of "One-O-Five Live," the station's new FM and Internet channel. He then paused for a few moments of prayer in the Chapel of the Annunciation, before going on to visit the editorial offices of each of the language groups.

  Finally, he arrived in the building's Marconi Hall where he delivered a brief address in which he greeted all Vatican Radio personnel, reserving a particular greeting for Fr. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach S.J., superior general of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) whom he thanked "for the service that, ever since the initial stages of Vatican Radio, the Jesuits have rendered to the Holy See, faithful to St. Ignatius' charism of complete dedication to the Church and to the Roman Pontiff."

  He then went on to trace certain aspects of the station's history, recalling Pius XI's awareness "of the importance that the new means of communication ... would have for disseminating the pontifical Magisterium around the world," and how during the Second World War, thanks to the station, Pius XII was able to ensure that the whole world heard his "impassioned exhortations for hope and peace."

  The Pope referred to the years of Communism, during which the station "increased its programs and its languages, in order to assure Christian communities oppressed by totalitarian regimes of the closeness and solidarity of the Pope and the Universal Church." He also mentioned Vatican Council II, which stressed "the importance communications media would have in spreading the evangelical message in our time."

  "Yours is 'the good fight of the faith' to spread the Gospel of Christ." said the Holy Father. "This consists, as it says in your Statutes, in announcing the Christian message freely, faithfully and effectively, and linking the center of Catholicism with the countries of the world. ... This is always an important mission, though the circumstances and ways of carrying it out change over time."

  Vatican Radio today, the Pope concluded, "is a chorus of voices sounding out in more than 40 languages, and capable of maintaining dialogue with different cultures and religions." He encouraged the staff to continue "to work in the great Areopagus of modern communications, drawing upon the wealth of the extraordinary experience you underwent during the Great Jubilee 2000, and even more so on the occasion of the death of the beloved John Paul II, an event that showed how much humanity wishes to understand the reality of the Church."
BXVI-VISIT/VATICAN RADIO/...                        VIS 20060303 (770)

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