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Television and the torch

· Thirty years of Vatican Television Centre ·

Vatican Television Centre (CTV) is celebrating its 30th birthday and has organized a conference on Friday, 18 October, at the foreign press office in Rome. During the meeting, messages by Pope Francis and the President of Italy Giorgio Napolitano will be read. The conference will look at the television station that tells the world about the Pope. It will reflect on the role of the media in the transmission of religious news — especially news directly related to the Pope — and the future work of CTV. These themes are also addressed in the book Cameras on St Peter's. Thirty years of Vatican Television Centre (Milano, Vita e Pensiero, 240 pages, 25 Euros, in both Italian and English with DVD), edited by the Director of CTV Dario Edoardo Viganò. The following is an excerpt from the book.

If one goes back to its etymological origins, it is curious and interesting to notice how the term ‘sacred’ signifies ‘separation’, indicating that "sacred is something from which one must stay far from". On the contrary, the word ‘television’, a strange mix of Greek and Latin, instead indicates ‘approach’, ‘proximity’: the possibility of watching even from afar. So if we believe in the words, then one understands how there is very little of sacred or spiritual in television and, generally, how very little there could be. If the god of contemporary television is called audience, one can well say that the expulsion of what is religious from the media constitutes a kind of scapegoat for modern thought. However, even within a world that, all things considered, is futile, like the world of television, one can apply René Girard’s marvellous definition: "The Sacred is above all what dominates man more easily the more man believes he is able to dominate it". And here perhaps is the key to the difficult rapport between religion and television.

"The wind blows where it wants", John the Evangelist says. It sounds even better in the Vulgar Latin: " Spiritus ubi vult spirat" . That is also what happens in the world of the media: the messages blow where they want. And it is complicated to analyze them, draw sure and efficacious conclusions and find order and reason.

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