On 40th Anniversary of Vatican II, Journalists Recall Their Role
Press Had a Key Part in Perceptions of the Council
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ROME, OCT. 13, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Journalists covering the Second Vatican Council had to struggle sometimes to get information and to transmit it properly, says a media professional.
Indeed, in not a few instances reporters acted like "detectives," said Giancarlo Zizola, who followed the council from the first to the last day.
Zizola's reminiscences were among the highlights of a meeting of historians and media professionals, held at the Foreign Press Association here Friday, to discuss the role of journalists at Vatican II.
The meeting was in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the solemn opening of the historic council.
Vatican II was also the first time a conciliar debate reached the public through the media, not through the classic ecclesiastical channels, Zizola recalled.
Andrea Riccardi, historian and founder of the Community of Sant'Egidio, also emphasized the importance of the press in coverage of Vatican II.
Riccardi explained how "since Vatican Council II the Church no longer 'monologues' but 'dialogues,'" and he emphasized how "the council prepared the Catholic Church for the present globalized and interreligious world."
He also referred to the convocation of the council by Pope John XXIII and the fears that arose because of the lack of a concrete program. This latter fact was misinterpreted by some sectors, which failed to understand the Holy Father's objective, Riccardi said.
Nevertheless, journalists met every afternoon with one or another of the council Fathers and took notes, which were the basis of most international press agencies' articles the following day, Zizola explained.
Moreover, theologians participating in the council, such as Yves Congar and Marie-Dominique Chenu, were also sources of information for reporters. They and other council Fathers met with journalists for dinner to discuss the day's proceedings.
Ettore Berbabei, television producer and former director general of RAI, the Italian state television, recalled the trip he made to Moscow in which he succeeded in persuading the Moscow Patriarchate to participate in the council.
Berbabei called it an example of how earnest professional communicators could also promote good ecumenical relations.