“I could not let this opportunity pass me by”, begins Dr Paolo Ruffini, the new Prefect of the Dicastery for Communication, in a message sent on Sunday to the Bishops participating in the 19th Plenary Assembly of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA). Bishops from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Sudan, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia are members of AMECEA.
We want to tell the world about the Church of Africa
After recalling the intense collaboration between Church-run radio stations in Africa and Vatican Radio, Dr Ruffini looks forward to continued collaboration with through the Vatican’s new digital platforms. He expressed the Dicastery’s determination to communicate the muti-faceted reality of the Church in Africa, alongside its mission of proclaiming the message of Pope Francis.
Full text of Dr Paolo Ruffini’s message:
Message from the Prefect of the Dicastery for the Communication of the Holy See to the 19th AMECEA Plenary Assembly.
The Chairman of AMECEA, Your Eminence – Cardinal Berhaneyesus Souraphiel
Their Eminences, the Cardinals;
Your Excellencies, Archbishops and Bishops;
Religious Superiors, members of the Clergy, Men and Women Religious;
Distinguished AMECEA partners;
The Lay Faithful;
Even though I have only just been appointed by the Holy Father to be the Prefect of the Dicastery for Communications of the Holy See, I could not let this opportunity of your august assembly pass me by.
Let me start by expressing, on behalf of the Dicastery for Communications of the Holy See, how pleased we all are to have been invited to be part of the Nineteenth Plenary Assembly of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA).
Your Eminences, Your Excellencies: I am keenly aware that after the Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops in 1994, AMECEA countries invested heavily in Diocesan Radio stations. This investment has been prophetic and served the Church of this region well. Over the years, in collaboration with Vatican Radio, your diocesan radio stations have not only brought the Gospel but also the voice of the Holy Father to many a Catholic home. Thank you for your courage and foresight.
I am happy to inform you that the reform of the Vatican Media being carried out by the Dicastery is beginning to bear fruit. We can now see growing consolidation, collaboration and coherence among the Holy See’s hitherto autonomous media outlets.
Vatican Radio, for example, which until now interacted with your radio stations in the AMECEA region has been integrated into the Dicastery for Communication. This incorporation was necessitated, in part, by a changing media landscape in the world. The context that we are now living has seen significant digital media convergence. It is a reality that the Holy See could not ignore.
On 4 May 2017, Pope Francis told us in his message to the Secretariat for Communications, during the Dicastery’s first-ever plenary assembly that given the new digital culture throughout the world, digital media would need to be part of a primary platform for spreading the Gospel.
Notwithstanding the Vatican media reform, Pope Francis in that historical message of May 2017 also made categorical his wish that attention and care be accorded to countries with little access to new digital technologies. The reform of the Vatican media would neither neglect nor abandon such countries - a significant number of which are in Africa. Vatican Radio to this day continues to broadcast on new digital platforms but also maintains its traditional outlets such as Shortwave frequencies for countries that still need this service.
Your Eminences, Dear Bishops: As AMECEA you can count on continued collaboration with the Dicastery for Communication. In the future, it is to be hoped that we can collaborate more closely in the World Day of Social Communications – a day that celebrates the Holy Father’s message. Furthermore, apart from bringing the Gospel message and the Holy Father’s voice into the homes of Catholics, the Dicastery is determined to bring to the world, news about the vibrant Church of Africa – in all its successes, blessedness but also with its challenges and pain.
Lastly, is it not wonderful that AMECEA is meeting in Addis Ababa at a time when Eritrea and Ethiopia are making peace?
Pope Francis summed it all when he said, two weeks ago, “In the midst of so many conflicts, it is right to point to an initiative that can be defined historical –and we can say that it is good news: In these days, after twenty years, the governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea have come back to talk about peace together. May this meeting kindle a light of hope for these two countries of the Horn of Africa and the entire African continent.”
Your Eminences, Your Excellencies, though not physically present with you in Addis Ababa, allow me to conclude by assuring you all that my office is open should you be in Rome.
Finally, I pray that the existing collaboration between AMECEA and the Dicastery for Communications of the Holy See not only continue but also grow in strength.
Dr Paolo RUFFINI
Dicastery for Communication