Vatican Media Chiefs: let`s build bridges and start a dialogue
We need media that build bridges rather than divisions, and start dialogues rather than create barriers," said Vatican media chiefs: Andrea Tornielli Ph.D. and Massimiliano Menichetti Ph.D. On June 1st, they were guests of the Catholic University of Lublin at a meeting that focused on "Modern Media and Technologies in Church Communication". The Italian experts, who are in charge of the Vatican News, pointed out that the truth told through the testimony and accounts of people and their life experience is fundamentally important in the media.
Andrea Tornielli is a Catholic journalist and writer, and program director of the Dicastery for Communication of the Holy See. Massimiliano Menichetti is also a journalist and academic lecturer, head of Vatican Radio and Vatican News. Both came to Lublin at the invitation and on the initiative of the Rector of the Catholic University of Lublin, Rev. Prof. Mirosław Kalinowski.
"Vatican Radio and Vatican News are the most important media in the Catholic Church. In the over 100-year history of the Catholic University of Lublin, it is the largest ranking representation of the Vatican when it comes to the media," emphasized Fr. Paweł Rytel-Andrianik Ph.D., who welcomed guests from Rome and introduced their profiles. The meeting was attended by many students, mostly those who are studying journalism.
Rector of the Catholic University of Lublin, Rev. Prof. Mirosław Kalinowski, who inaugurated the event, pointed out that the guests from the Vatican are excellent specialists in the field of media. "It certainly strengthens our experiences and gives us enthusiasm," said Rev. Prof. Kalinowski. He recalled that the Catholic University of Lublin, after the turn of 1989, thanks to the initiative of Father Prof. Leon Dyczewski, could successfully develop journalism studies, leaving behind a set of guidelines, similar to the Ten Commandments, for future generations to follow. The guidelines encourage maintaining a critical perspective and distance towards media messages.
The Rector of the Catholic University of Lublin also mentioned John Paul II, who – as he noted – was the first Pope in history so widely open to the world of communication and relations with journalists. He also added that recently the Catholic University of Lublin has become the most active in social media among all Polish universities, which is of great importance nowadays. According to the Internet and Social Media Research Institute's analysis, the Catholic University of Lublin has been confirmed to generate significant interest among Internet users due to its high number of posts on Facebook.
During his presentation on Vatican media reform, Andrea Tornielli highlighted the importance of synergy and multimedia as the main principles guiding the reform since 2015. He also pointed out that for the Vatican media, it is crucial to tell the story of life and present testimonies. "We try to apply it every day in Vatican media," said Tornielli, who believes that the most convincing form of truth is conveyed through personal testimony, rather than abstract concepts. Even if we do not personally agree with someone's beliefs, their life experiences and relationships deserve our respect and consideration.
"We need media that help not to divide but to build bridges. Not to erect a barrier of division, but to enter into dialogue. We need media that use all modern technologies to communicate the good, foster exchanges, listen to others, and bear witness to the beauty of the Christian faith, never turning truth or identity into a cudgel or a wall. In our daily work, even when we have to talk about dramatic realities such as war, we always try to do so, leaving some room for seeds of hope. Because this is what is needed," added the Editorial Director of the Dicastery for Communication of the Holy See.
In turn, Dr. Massimiliano Menichetti, who talked about the backstage work in the Vatican media, emphasized that their most important mission is to reach people all over the world with the Gospel, and also with the message of Pope Francis, the Holy See, and the entire Catholic Church. Thanks to satellite and advanced technology, Vatican Radio and Vatican News can reach even the most remote regions of Africa and Asia. The project is not only multimedia but also multilingual, with editorial offices providing news services in various languages. The Vatican's current information and communication system broadcasts and publishes in as many as 51 languages, with more to come.
"The main language is, of course, Italian, followed by English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, German, Polish, Chinese, and Arabic," the head of Vatican Radio said, adding that recently the editorial office has intensified its coverage of information in Ukrainian and Russian. "We also broadcast in Esperanto and, of course, in Latin," he added.
An important aspect of the activity of the Vatican Radio and Vatican News is also telling about events in the world through the prism of Catholic social teaching. – It means that if, for example, a bomb explodes in Ukraine, we certainly inform about the destruction but, at the same time, we show who helps, who works for the sake of another man, for peace, for brotherhood, and at every level: in a word, help, policy, diplomacy, and possible solutions – summed up Dr. Massimiliano Menichetti.
Vatican Radio and Vatican News have hundreds of thousands of followers on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, with millions of people reached. On June 27, 2015, Pope Francis created a new information system for the Holy See through a Motu Proprio. This established the Secretariat for Communication as the new dicastery of the Roman Curia. Vatican News covers four main thematic areas, which concern the activities of the Pope, the Holy See, local Churches, and information from the world. Vatican News is not only to inform but also to propose an interpretative key in the light of the Gospel. The main challenge is to respond "ever better to the demands of the Church mission" in today's culture, with the aim of "communicating the Gospel of mercy to all people" in different cultures.
Dr. Paolo Ruffini is the Prefect of the Dicastery for Communication. Dr. Massimiliano Menichetti is the Editorial Director of Vatican Media and the head of Vatican Radio - Vatican News.