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Pope calls on Asian Church radio to be 'voice of the poor'

Joe Torres, Manila - UCAN - Fri, Apr 12th 2019

Tells Radio Veritas Asia he hopes it will continue 'to raise hearts of listeners' in 50th anniversary message.
Pope calls on Asian Church radio to be 'voice of the poor'

Church leaders and members of the clergy from across Asia attend the 50th anniversary celebration of Radio Veritas Asia
in Manila on April 11. (Photo by Angie de Silva)

Pope Francis has called on an Asian church-run radio station, which celebrated its 50th anniversary on April 11, to help build “a more just and united society"

In his message to Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), the pontiff expressed hope that the station would pursue its mandate to preach the Gospel and be a "channel of love by being the voice of the poor."

The pope said he would pray that the media organization, established in 1969, would continue, "to raise the hearts of listeners to the God of love and truth."

He urged church media communicators to knit "the bonds of evangelical love" for Catholics to be conscious of "the grief and anxieties" of people, especially the poor.

Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, papal nuncio to Manila, read the pope’s message during the first day of a week-long celebration at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila.

In his own remarks, Archbishop Caccia stressed the importance of "unity and communion" in "spreading the truth." 

"Any time we build in communion, there will be a good result according to the Gospel," said the prelate, adding that the "Church is missionary, or it doesn’t exist."

He said the radio station’s establishment 50 years ago "was under the sign of the mission to spread with creativity, with new means, but always to spread the Gospel."

"If Jesus is the word of God, we have to listen to Him. You cannot watch the radio, but you can listen to the radio," he said.

"It reminds us that we are always listeners of the word. If we don’t listen to the word with Jesus, we are not based in the truth, and we are not free," added the archbishop.

Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, papal nuncio to Manila, delivers the message of Pope Francis during the 50th anniversary celebration
of Radio Veritas Asia in Manila on April 10. (Photo by Angie de Silva)

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila said the aim of Radio Veritas is "to serve the truth and share it to wipe out ignorance."

Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon said the station should be "the voice of the voiceless, the forgotten, the poor, the people on the peripheries."

RVA traces its history back to 1958 when church leaders from Asia and Australia decided to establish a radio station for the Catholic Church in Asia to counter the impact of the spread of communism during the Cold War.

The bishops chose the Philippines to house the radio station because it was the biggest Catholic country in Asia and was on the doorstep of China.

The project was supported by Vatican’s Congregation of the Propagation of the Faith, the German bishops' conference and various aid agencies in Europe.

Test broadcasts began in 1967, and on April 11, 1969, the first overseas broadcast via shortwave technology began with two 100 KW transmitters.

RVA became a "symbol of the Asian people’s hope and trust" and tried its best to respond to the challenge laid down at Vatican II to use media to reach out to Catholics in their own language.

With 22 language services, RVA became the Catholic Church's tool to reach our to people across the region.

In 1986, the station played a crucial role in the most critical period of Philippine history during the "people power revolution" that returned democracy to the country.

In 2018, it stopped its shortwave broadcast and migrated to online and social media.

In a statement, RVA said it is "challenged to change and to convert ourselves as we listen to the Lord talking to us through the signs of the times," adding that it will continue to fulfill its mission through the internet "to enliven millions in Asia and Asians around the world."

Marielle Lucenio contributed to this story.

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