Pope asks Vatican media, “who actually reads your news?”

Pope Francis Vatican media

Pope Francis has stunned Vatican media staff, Tuesday, asking how may people actually read their news.

“There are many reasons to be concerned about (Vatican) Radio, about L’Osservatore Romano. But, the one that touches my heart: how many listen to the radio, and how many read L’Osservatore Romano?” Francis asked in a live radio broadcast Tuesday during his first-ever visit to their multi-media headquarters.

“Our job is to reach the people,” Francis said in the live broadcast.

“Every day, ask yourself this question: How many people do we reach?

“How many people get the message of Jesus through L’Osservatore Romano?” he said to the radio hosts.

Francis visited the Dicastery for Communication, Vatican Radio and the headquarters of the Vatican’s newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, which is marking its 160th anniversary. He appeared to use the occasion to lay down the gauntlet at a fraught financial time for the Holy See.

Facing a projected €50m deficit this year, Francis ordered salary cuts from between 3% and 10% for Vatican employees. He also paused seniority bonuses for two years.

Francis said their work was good, their offices nice and organised, but there was a “danger” that their work doesn’t arrive where it is supposed to.

He warned them against falling prey to a “lethal” functionality where they go through the motions but don’t actually achieve anything.

The cost-benefit question of the Vatican’s communications office has been raised many times.

It consumes more of the budget than any other department.

The latest figures show the Dicastery for Communication had a €43m budget for 2021, about 20% percent of the total.

Its expenses are greater than the combined expenses of the 10 smallest Vatican departments.

The Vatican has long justified the costs because its communications operations are at the core of the Holy See’s main mission: to communicate the Catholic faith to all corners of the globe.

The head of the office, Paolo Ruffini, said he took the pope’s words as an invitation to creatively look to the future, even while acknowledging the reality of today’s media realities.

He recalled Francis had told L’Osservatore Romano staff to “let themselves be slapped by reality.”

That comment was a wake-up call of sorts.

Reality “sometimes it challenges us in a harsh way, it gives us slaps,” Ruffini told Vatican News.

“We must react with the strength to make it change.”


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News category: Palmerston, World.