Thursday, March 14, 2013

Analysis of Papal Relationship With Vatican Radio, International Media

A David Willet - BBC quote today says a lot about Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, elected as Pope Francis I.

"Francis is a Jesuit, a member of perhaps the most powerful and experienced religious order of the Catholic Church. The Jesuits are expert communicators and it is significant that one of the first people summoned to meet the new Pope this morning was Father Federico Lombardi, head of Vatican Radio (run for many years by the Jesuits) and the Vatican Press Office. "Under Pope Benedict, Father Lombardi was a mere functionary who had no direct access to the Pope. He could not pick up the phone and talk things through quickly - he just received orders from the Vatican Secretariat of State. That has now changed overnight."

"It will be interesting to see what changes are made to Vatican Radio's output under Pope Francis", said Andy Sennitt, retired from RNW.

The BBC quotes a source as saying this: "At dinner he half-jokingly toasted his fellow Cardinals with a prayerful quip: "May God forgive you for what you have done!"

Furthermore, the BBC reports the following:
Security for an unannounced trip into the city with the Pope was kept to a minimum. Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, pointed out to journalists that the Vatican's security officers - the famed ceremonial Swiss Guard and the 150-strong police force - are there to serve the pontiff, not to restrict his movements. "He will do his own thing in his own time and at his own speed," Father Lombardi said.

Further notes on Pope Francis I say that he will have audience with the press this coming Saturday, and that he seems to have a "vivid awareness" that he has a lot of work to do at this juncture of Catholic church history. This important quote sounds pretty re-assuring that Pope Francis is going to be a Pope of the people: "Public relations will be a priority at a particularly sensitive moment of papal transition."

What this might mean for Vatican Radio and other international broadcasters who report news and items of public interest regarding the pope and the church:

Given that the order the Pope belongs to is accomplished at training their progeny to be expert communicators, it can be expected that Pope Francis will be very blunt and brutally honest, he will cut right to the point and will not beat around the bush. Pope Francis, as a Jesuit member, will have much to say about Vatican Radio operations and the content of programming. Reasonable speculation can be laid on some aspects of more modern programming becoming a bit more traditional. We can definitely expect Pope Francis to be someone who could possibly want some items on Vatican Radio to be cleared by him prior to being aired.

In terms of Pope Francis' relations with international broadcasters outside of Vatican Radio, we might see him more willing to be approached on topics that are more narrowly tailored to his vision for the papacy, the church, leadership expectations within the church, reform of certain matters of policy, and what he wants the church image to become.

As this is the most important aspect of communications with Pope Francis, some of us are wondering if Pope Francis will be monitoring more than just local radio, and whether or not he will be listening to international shortwave broadcasts relevant to his interests. Jesuits, as a general rule, usually do tend to pay more attention to radio than television. Given that this Pope is more of a humble individual focused on the needs of people, we can reasonably say there is about an 50 to 65% chance that he will be tuning in as his time allows.

Young people in the Catholic church culture have openly stated that they wanted a Pope who would be for young persons, so from the communications perspective, it will be interesting to see whether or not Pope Francis pays attention to where the communications / media interests of young people are swaying these days.