Vatican City, Oct 25, 2014 / 06:42 pm (CNA).- In a rare move, the Vatican has officially recognized the public communications organization SIGNIS as a Catholic association, which, according to a Vatican official, happens less than once a year.
“SIGNIS is called to form lay Catholics who work in the media to be truly salt and light, and to be a leaven that transforms the world from within,” Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko said in the Oct. 24 ceremony for the consignment of the Decree of erection of the International Association.
The cardinal, who serves as president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, told the organization that their Christian witness “is important for the Church and for the world. The Church needs this, and counts on you as part of its mission of evangelizing the world of today.”
SIGNIS, officially known as the World Catholic Association for Communication, is a non-governmental organization composed of members of 140 countries who work throughout the world in the fields of radio, television, cinema, video, media education, Internet and new technology professions.
Created in 2001 by the merger of two former organizations, SIGNIS works specifically to engage media professionals and help support Catholic communicators through training programs, supplying equipment, the promotion of films or TV programs, the production and distribution of programs and the creation of radio, video and television studios.
By promoting human dignity, justice and reconciliation, the organization seeks to transform a secular culture with the light of the Gospel.
The Vatican’s council for the laity, alongside the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, who share in overseeing the newly approved International Association of the Faithful, described in an Oct. 24 statement how it is necessary to train Christians in order to give proper voice to their ideas and contributions.
“In order to efficaciously offer her contribution to culture, evangelization today has to include all means of communication. In this field the role of lay faithful is irreplaceable,” the statement read.
Reference was then made to St. John Paul II’s encyclical letter “Redemptoris Missio” when the pontiff said that “The first Areopagus of the modern age is the world of communications.”
Therefore “it is necessary that those Christians who have access to the ‘New Areopaguses’ be able to give voice to their ideas, and for this reason operators in the field should be adequately and effectively prepared,” the statement continued.
The Areopagus is a small marble hill that sits next to the Acropolis in Athens, and is traditionally believed to be the site where St. Paul delivered his well-known speech on the identity of “the Unknown God,” which is recorded in chapter 17 of the bible’s “Acts of the Apostles.”
In addition to its official approval as a Catholic organization, SIGNIS also has consultative statutes with United Nations in Geneva and New York, and with the Council of Europe.
Vatican City, Oct 25, 2014 / 09:20 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis has sent a message to young people affected by the “culture of waste,” calling on them to spread the hope of the Gospel amid these times of uncertainty.
The Pope's message, dated Oct. 16, was written to mark the Italian Bishops’ conference of Salerno's national convention on the theme: “Hope amid uncertainty.”
According to the message, the aim of the convention, which runs from Oct. 24-26, was to reflect on that which offers hopeful prospects, “in a time marked by uncertainty, bewilderment, and great changes.”
Having encountered many young people over the course of his visits throughout Italy, the Pope Francis writes that he has seen “firsthand the plight of many unemployed youth.”
The problem is more than merely economic, he said: “It is a problem of dignity.” Without work, one cannot have the experience of dignity which comes from being able to put food on the table. “And unfortunately,” he said, “there are many young people in Italy without work.”
At this moment in time, the Pope writes, “the 'culture of waste' is strong: everything that does not bring in a profit is discarded. The youth are discarded, because they are without work.” Because of this, “the future of a people is discarded, since the youth represent the future of a people. We must say 'no' to this 'culture of waste'.”
Amid this uncertainty, the Pope said, “there is another word: hope.” It is through the “strength of the Gospel” that one keeps from losing hope in “the 'quicksand' of uncertainty.”
“The Gospel is the source of hope, because it comes from God, because it comes from Jesus Christ,” who sympathizes with “all of our uncertainties.”
“You young people belong to the Church,” he said, “and therefore you have the gift and the responsibility” to use the “power of the Gospel” within the current social and cultural context.
Pope Francis concluded the message, saying: “The Gospel engenders attentiveness toward the other, a culture of encounter, of solidarity. Therefore, with the strength of the Gospel, you are witnesses of hope amid uncertainty.”
Vatican City, Oct 25, 2014 / 07:30 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Director of the Vatican Museums Antonio Paolucci has rejected rumors that they are now renting the Sistine Chapel, adding that beauty is always an occasion to grow in charity and generosity.
“In the last few days I've read that someone thought we are renting the Sistine Chapel to those who have money to spend,” Paolucci said in an Oct. 20 statement released by the Vatican Museums.
“It is nothing of the sort, because the Sistine Chapel is a sacred place: it's certainly not able to be rented on request, nor will it ever become a venue for private parties!”
Rumors surrounding the Sistine Chapel began following the Oct. 18 launch of the museum’s “The Art of Charity” initiative, which consists of a series of exclusive events that include a guided tour of the museums with a private concert inside the Sistine Chapel, as well as a dinner inside the museums.
The Rome-based Orchestra of the Academy of Santa Cecilia, was the group selected to play during the launch event. They performed Rossini’s “Petite Messe Solennelle.”
The Porsche Travel Club was the first to take advantage of the new project, with members paying up to $6,000 per person for the concert-tour combo, which would yield a ballpark total of $200,000, a Vatican source confirmed. Up to 70 people are expected to participate in such events.
In his statement, Paolucci lamented the confusion that has arisen out of the event, explaining that the Vatican Museums have always accepted groups for private tours after hours, during which a visit to the Sistine Chapel is customary.
This, he said, is “a natural part of the Museum tour, so this is not 'news;’ we are not doing anything that different, (only adding) an additional pretense which is the novelty of the project.”
Paolucci noted that as the museums belonging to the Vatican, they seek to channel the energy and resources they receive from these events in the name of “the beauty of the arts” toward the always-present and ever-increasing needs of the poor.
“The insight that we give is simple: art is charity and love. It gives so much to man, it recalls the sense of his existence, without asking anything in return other than a glance and an open heart.”
For those who still maintain the “contemptuous audacity” to ask the Pope why he doesn’t sell his art if he is so interested in the poor, the museum director said that the museum’s response is simple: “because man would be poorer in every sense” for it.
When art and the generosity of businesses and individuals come together so much more can be done, he said, and expressed his hope that the Oct. 18 launch of “The Art of Charity” will only be the first of many other such events that “many others” will support in the future.
In the statement, the museums also emphasized the “daily actions of solidarity” practiced by the Church throughout the world, which are executed “silently but effectively, without clamor, without making any noise, and for which there is always a need for new resources.”
“It is, therefore, a unique opportunity aimed at those who want to embrace initiatives of high cultural and social value,” the statement closed.