A central dimension of Christianity, tradition – a theological term and concept often misunderstood by extreme opposing positions – includes, obviously, the communicative transmission of faith. “One needs to know how to be ancient and modern, to speak according to tradition, but also in conformity with our sensibilities. What use is it to say what is true, if the men of our time don’t understand us?” said Monsignor Montini to Jean Guitton in 1950. This reflection by the future Paul VI, was in perfect alignment with a history of very long date that began with the early centuries of Christian proselytism, a creative initiative sustained by an intense circulation of texts. Even in this long historical view, therefore, despite deeply-rooted stereotypes, the Church has constantly sought to effectively transmit the most revolutionary news, synthesized in the Easter greeting of the Eastern Christians, “Christ is risen. Yes, He is truly risen.”
In the modern context of communications, the Church of Rome and her Popes have shown themselves to be part of the avant-garde: from Leo XIII’s interview published on the front page of Le Figaro , August 14, 1892 – the first interview with a Roman Pontiff, granted, by the way, to a woman journalist of Socialist leanings – to the pastoral wisdom of Pius X, who personally taught catechism to the children of the Roman parishes in the Vatican’s San Damaso courtyard, through to the innovative media initiatives in radio, cinema and television of Pius XI and Pius XII.
Vatican II and the Popes that prepared it, desired it and conducted it – Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI - also brought change in communications. With the increasing visibility of the papacy, beginning with the papal trips of Pope Montini to five continents, and culminating in the incessant global itinerary of John Paul II, the cross of Christ has been placed in the midst of the dynamic and dramatic world panorama: stat crux dum volvitur orbis.
For six years, Benedict XVI – who has dedicated his life to the service of the truth and precisely because of this wants a more efficient and present Vatican media – has focused on explaining tradition: to make himself understood by young and old, journalists and the faithful, intellectuals and politicians. Today, he does so on television, for the first time, answering questions that have come from every corner of the world. Keeping faith and reason together; demonstrating friendship towards everyone; continuing the Christian tradition.
St. Peter’s Square
Feb. 18, 2020
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