Pope to Bless New High-Definition Van

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 16, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is set to bless Vatican Television Center's new high-definition van, which will make it possible to broadcast video images of papal events in HD.

The Pontiff will bless the 45-foot-long and 13-feet-high mobile unit after the general audience on Wednesday. The Vatican says the van, which in the future will also be able to broadcast in 3D, should be up and running by Christmas.

The unit comes equipped with 16 video cameras, and has a capacity for up to 24. It cost a total of €4.5 million ($6 million), and was made possible by Sony-Italy, the Knights of Columbus and the Vatican Television Center.

According to Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican Television Center, the investment in the HD unit makes sense, given that there are more than 200 live broadcasts from the Vatican every year, "from the large celebrations in St. Peter's Square, to the angelus and the general and special audiences, to the concerts in Paul VI Hall or in the basilicas, among others."

The director also said that it was time for the Vatican to upgrade to HD capacity: "If we don't maintain an adequate level of quality and capacity, we'd be standing in the way of broadcasting images, and thus the Pope's message."

History of communication

Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, said the van "represents the most recent development in the long history of the Catholic Church's work in mass communications."

He continued: "Whether it was Christ going out a short distance to sea or climbing a hill to speak to the crowds, or St. Paul at the Areopagus, or the bible being printed on the newly invented printing press, or missionaries heading by ship or horse or donkey to the farthest corners of the earth, there is an unbroken Catholic tradition of bringing Christ to the greatest number of people possible in the clearest manner available.

"It is for this is the reason that the Knights of Columbus is so happy to be able support the great communications work of the Vatican, which continues the evangelizing spirit of the Church in the modern world through the use of the best technology available. Today, the Holy See has the opportunity to reach the farthest corners of the earth through the new Areopagus -- high definition television."

Anderson also commented on the role of the Knights of Columbus in funding the technology that has helped the Vatican communicate. In 1965, the knights funded a transmitter for Vatican Radio, and since 1975 they have helped with Vatican satellite uplink and downlink costs since 1975. Also, in 1985, 1995 and 2010, the Knights of Columbus sponsored three television trucks.

The supreme knight said the organization "has been honored to help spread the message abroad as well, helping defray various media costs associated with certain Papal trips over the past several decades."

"The technology has changed," Anderson added. "The manner in which the Gospel is best brought to the world has changed. But the Good News of Jesus Christ is unchanging. Only today, that good news can be brought to a far greater audience much more quickly.

"As the Church continues to take seriously Christ’s call for us to teach all nations, it is our hope that this new technology in the service of evangelization will serve as a conduit, bringing to every corner of the earth the word of God -- presented in the most technologically clear and advanced manner that has ever been possible, and transforming the lives of countless people."