Cardinal John Foley served as President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications from 1984 to 2007. If you have ever watched a papal mass on the TV or Internet (eg. the Christmas Midnight Mass from St Peters), chances are you have heard John Foley’s voice – which is very easy to listen to. You could call him “The Voice of Christmas”.
While he is in Australia to create new knights and ladies/dames for the Order, he was invited to speak to Archdiocesan staff about aspects of Communications and Media in the Church. Hence our morning tea.
Indeed he is a most engaging speaker, telling us all sorts of stories and jokes from his childhood and early years in the media and the church. I don’t know if I learnt a lot more about communications and media, but I certainly learnt a lot about Cardinal Foley and had an enjoyable morning to boot.
I was specifically interested in the question of blogging and the “new media”, of course, but it seems to be that His Eminence is much more comfortable with good ol’ fashioned print media. “At almost 74, I’m closer to Gutenberg than to the Internet… I don’t know the future of print media, but it would grieve me to see the end of it.”
But he was responsible for several policy decisions with regard to the Vatican Internet services, for instance in securing the “.va” tag for the Vatican. “They wanted us to be .it, but I said to them that although we are surrounded by .it, and although in many ways we are .it, we are NOT .it!”
He did grant that in one respect, the on-line media had an advantage. Whereas many radio, tv and print media are being swallowed up by large conglomerates, the internet still gives a “local” voice.
At the end, I asked him which was his favourite Vatican journalist. His answer: “No comment”.
Quite apart from the question of the media, he also told us about the work of the Order in the Holy Land, which was very interesting. And he also commented that he thought I resembled Cardinal Richelieu. I hope it was the moustache and goatee he was referring too…