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The pope's radio nearing its 90th birthday

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It's no secret the Catholic Church is a leader in many aspects such as healthcare, education and also communication. Nearly 90 years ago the very first international broadcasting outlet in the world began, it also was started by the Catholic Church, Vatican Radio. 

Andrea Tornielli is the editorial director of the Vatican's Dicastery of Communication, of which the radio is a part. 

Editorial Director, Dicastery of Communication
“Vatican Radio is almost 90 years old. It was founded at the request of Pius XI to show that they Holy See has always paid attention to means of communication. He immediately understood that the radio, would be a powerful means of communication for the future and to include many people in the Catholic world.”

Yet, while the radio began with four languages, it grew. Now, countries such as Slovakia, Hungary and Poland are represented as one of 35 languages with their own radio program, transmitting the pope's words and messages to the world. 

While the largest language in the world, Chinese, with 1.2 billion native speakers receive news about the pope, also the second largest, Spanish. 

Journalist, Vatican Radio (Honduras)
“Spanish-speaking people are not only found in Latin America, the United States, or in Europe. There is also a community of Latin Americans in New Zealand. No matter where they are, they can connect with our website and listen to the voice of the pope and what the pope's doing at certain times like at Easter or Christmas.”

Most of the journalists who work at the Radio, have worked there for an average of 20 years. They have seen different popes come and go, and learned each one's preferred mode of communiction.

One of the longest-standing journalists is Sean Patrick Lovett, who's been at Vatican Radio for 45 years. He is the Director of English Programming and has seen five popes.

Director of English Programming
“Pope Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and now Francis, has brought and brings his own particular style. But if I have to think of a turning point, it would be at 17 minutes past five, on May the 13th 1981. Of the four shots that shook the world, when Pope Saint John Paul II was shot in St. Peter's Square, just down the road. That was probably one of the great moments in in my radio career, I think.”

The particular aspect about Vatican Radio is that each career and program inside it is different. For example, the only channel is the entire radio that transmits live is Italian. It's a local, radio wave show that airs from 7:30a.m. to 8 p.m. They have a talk show, various guests, news on Pope Francis and also music.

Vice-Coordinator, Vatican Radio Italy
“We really like that this studio here behind me is a meeting place, hosting not only Catholics, not just Christians, but expanding to the secular world and to people from other religious denominations. In short, it's a radio that can be a place of encounter. It's a radio going out to the peripheries as like Pope Francis asks."

From the very beginning, until now, in the middle of their reform process, the radio has continued. It's 90th birthday will be celebrated on Feb. 12, 2021, in just two years. 

By: Melissa Butz