Earlier today, Pope Benedict XVI visited the studios of Vatican Radio, currently celebrating its 75th anniversary, where he told workers and technicians that theirs is the “good fight…of spreading the Gospel of Christ” to the world.
Vatican Radio’s three directors, Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., Fr. Andrej Koprowski S.J., and Alberto Gasbarri, respectively, director general, director of programs, and technical and administrative director, were all on hand to welcome the Holy Father.
Pope Benedict began with a visit to a fourth floor studio, where he blessed a plaque which read, "Cardinal Karol Wojtyla.” The late pontiff had recorded a number of interviews there while he was still cardinal.
Following the blessing, the Holy Father went live on air and delivered some off-the-cuff remarks to listeners.
He said that "Today, the voice of Vatican Radio can reach to every part of the world, to many homes,” adding that “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.”
Benedict said that to him, the benefit of a means of communication like Vatican Radio is “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.”
He also expressed his desire that everyone listening to him would “feel they are truly involved in this great dialogue of truth.”
He said that because “in the world of the communications media there is no lack, as we know, of contrasting voices…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."
During a brief address to station personnel, the Pope outlined Vatican Radio’s role during key moments in history, including World War II, during which Pope Pius XII “was able to ensure that the whole world heard his "impassioned exhortations for hope and peace."
Likewise he pointed out that during the height of communism in Europe, 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."
"Yours”, he told the group, “is 'the good fight of the faith' to spread the Gospel of Christ."
Here, he cited the station’s own Statutes, which charge them to “announce the Christian message freely, faithfully and effectively, and [link] 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."
The Pope concluded his address saying that today, Vatican Radio "is a chorus of voices sounding out in more than 40 languages, and capable of maintaining dialogue with different cultures and religions."
He likewise encouraged Radio personnel "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."
Since its inauguration in 1931 under the pontificate of Pius IX, every Pope has visited the radio headquarters at least once during their pontificate, with the noted exception of John Paul I, whose own pontificate was too brief to do so.