The Holy See
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Dear Archbishop Foley,

1. I am pleased to convey the cordial greetings of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to all those participating in the International Congress for Catholic Television, organized by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications with the generous collaboration of the Archdiocese of Madrid, and being held in Los Negrales, Madrid, from 10 to 13 October 2006. The Holy Father extends his greetings to all those following this event via the internet and other means of social communication. His Holiness wishes to encourage encounter, dialogue and cooperation between the many Church organizations that produce or broadcast television programmes in various parts of the world. No matter how large or small these organizations may be, it is evident that they are making great efforts to accomplish their mission to communicate the Gospel and its values actively and efficiently utilizing the audiovisual techniques of our time.

2. Television reaches countless persons, cultures and nations, who are brought close to one another by the audiovisual medium. Through today’s communications network, organizations have greater opportunities to promote their products quickly and efficiently. When all these opportunities are creatively utilized by the genius of humankind (cf. Inter Mirifica, 1), they can serve as an occasion to defend the dignity of every person, to promote peace, solidarity, unity and communion within the human family. In this respect, the late Pope John Paul II indicated the way forward for the Church with his Apostolic Letter, The Rapid Development (24 January 2005), which has been chosen as the theme for the present Congress.

This gathering is in itself a sign of the timeliness of the afore-mentioned Apostolic Letter, for it provides an excellent occasion for interpersonal dialogue and direct engagement between participants from around the world, who, united in the same ecclesial communion, seek to respond to those challenges that contemporary society presents to the disciples of Christ. The lively experience of communion in the Lord and with the Bishops, pastors of the flock, is the foundation for all forms of cooperation and communal service, and these should gain greater impetus as a result of this Congress.

3. The Church no longer questions whether to use the communications media, but rather, how to do so in order the better to accomplish and the more faithfully to fulfil Christ’s missionary mandate, and so to respond in a solicitous manner to the needs of our times. The multiplicity of initiatives, in many cases evidence of the promptings of the Holy Spirit, today requires greater mutual collaboration in a true effort to enhance professional quality, so as to facilitate a more spirited dialogue between the Church and the world. In this respect, every organization brings its own particular contribution to the encounter of the Catholic voice and the world media. It is necessary, therefore, that there be a great unity between the Holy See and the local hierarchies in order to inspire and support the various television companies, and those that will develop in the future, helping them to remain faithful to their Catholic identity while preserving their diverse styles, sensibilities and cultural characteristics. The fulfilment of this mission will facilitate a continual pastoral renewal and a change of mentality (cf. The Rapid Development, 7), that will be rooted in a profound trust in the Lord, alive and present in His Church throughout all of history.

4. The pastoral work of the Church, which seeks before anything else direct engagement with individuals for their well-being, must be complemented and strengthened through a harmonious and widely diffused presence in the various means of social communication. These means offer and propose models of culture and ways of life, powerfully influencing the preferences and opinions of persons and groups as well as helping to shape decision making in diverse environments. In this sense, the new forms of communication offer a highly favourable framework for more active participation of the public together with the media, promoting the inclusion of less fortunate sectors of the public and adapting themselves in a particular way to the experience of communion that is at the very heart of the Church. For this to be accomplished it is necessary, without fear of technology, with intrepid hope and faith, to promote a joyful, creative and professional presence in television. We must be co-workers of the truth so as to offer the Good News of Our Lord in the multiple formats of audiovisual media, while also witnessing to the beauty of creation.

Entrusting the success of the International Congress to the powerful intercession of the Virgin Mary, Star of Evangelization, and of Saint Clare, Patroness of Television, in the hope of obtaining abundant fruit for the life of the Church and of the world, the Holy Father cordially imparts the requested Apostolic Blessing to all the participants.

From the Vatican, 29 September 2006

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone
Secretary of State