Today, Thursday September 21, at 9:30, an important signature was affixed in the Vatican. The Prefect of the Secretariat for Communications (SfC), Msgr. Dario Edoardo Viganò, and Father Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves, delegate of the Superior General of the Society of Jesus Father Arturo Sosa Abascal, signed a Convention between the new Dicastery of the Holy See, created on the request of Pope Francis in 2015 to usher in a process for media reform, and the Jesuit order, a fruitful presence in the history of Vatican communications. SIR had the opportunity to meet Msgr. Dario E. Viganò on the occasion of the signature.
The agreement between the SfC and the Jesuits bears special importance within the context of the reform of Vatican media. Mons. Viganò, could you tell us more about it? The Convention signed today is the outcome of a long process of understanding of a new situation, of how the Society of Jesus can continue serving the Church in the apostolic mission of proclaiming the Gospel within a new environment, that is, the new Secretariat for Communications. In fact, as Pope Francis recalled mentioning the Secretariat:
“it is not a matter of coordination or a fusion of previous Dicasteries, but of constructing a genuine institution ex novo”.
How did the Convention come about? Who are its interlocutors? I am very grateful to the Society of Jesus for this agreement, to the General Superior Fr Arturo Sosa Abascal and to his delegate Fr Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves, for the style of the discernment that was undertaken. I wish to express
Not only my personal gratitude and that of the Dicastery but also that of the Holy Father, whom I kept constantly informed of the progress of the renewed presence of the Jesuit Fathers within the new reality of communication.
Was this endeavour carried out in synergy with the Secretary of State, as you have often pointed out? Indeed, a special thanks goes to the Secretary of State, that accompanies the Curia’s general reform, which includes the reform of the media apparatus as a whole, following the indications of the Holy Father. In particular, the Holy See has indicated also the criteria to be followed by the Dicastery vis a vis other religious families within the framework of the complex process leading up to the implementation of the Reform. It’s a form of support to discernment in view of the next steps we are called to take.
The Jesuits, a historical presence in realm of Holy See communications, today give renewed impetus to the process leading up to the reform. We have gone a long way since 1931, when the Vatican Radio was first created with Pope Pius XI and Guglielmo Marconi.
With the passing of time, the Jesuits, also owing to their international presence in a home near the Radio station, have enriched the number of reporters, bringing the Pope’s messages throughout the world.
I wish to share a recollection of these days: past September 18 we celebrated the100th birthday of Father Antonio Stefanizzi, a historical director of the Vatican Radio, thanking God the Father for his one-hundred years of life. He carried out his ministry on the Radio at a time marked by the Church’s powerful thrust of renewal, during Vatican II Ecumenical Council. Looking back, it can be said that he placed radio listeners at the centre of his mission. With interviews, dedicated programs and reflections Father Stefanizzi translated and disseminated the work carried out in the Council hall “outside”, with a true narration of the facts through the elevated lenses of spiritual hermeneutics, as rightfully recalled by the Pope Emeritus Benedict and Pope Francis. It is in the light of the spirit that guided him that we have gathered today to sign the Convention between the Secretariat for Communication and the Society of Jesus.