Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Vatican Radio: Propagation by the Airwaves

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Vatican Radio: Propagation by the Airwaves

Article excerpt

Vatican Radio: Propagation by the Airwaves. By Marilyn J. Matelski. [Media and Society Series.] (Westport, Connecticut: Praeger. 1995. Pp. xx, 199. $55.00.)

Radio HVJ, "H" for Holy See, "V" for Vatican, and "J" for Jesus Christ, has for almost three-quarters of a century served the pope and the Holy See as a medium for the propagation of ecclesiastical policies. Against the background of the history of Vatican Radio, Matelski seeks to analyze its effectiveness within the context of a discussion of models of social change and models of leadership styles as well as the ecclesiological changes of the twentieth century.

Such a goal is consonant with the challenge of interdisciplinary studies, and this work illustrates the perils of such endeavors. The outline of the history of Radio HVJ in the author's introduction whets the reader's appetite for more details of its achievements and its failures. One hopes for analysis of its role during World War II and during the "Cold War together with the reaction of the various concerned governments. The United States' "Voice of America," the Soviet Union's "Radio Moscow, China's "Radio Peking," and Britain's famed "BBC" are cursorily mentioned and the opportunity to compare them critically to Vatican Radio is lost.

Unfortunately for the historian, each chapter is devoted more to sociological and theological analysis of the Church and various forces within it than to an exposition of the role of Vatican Radio. Too often mention of Vatican Radio appears only at the end of a particular chapter.

In grounding her historical and theological analyses, the author occasionally relies on biased or erroneous sources, and on other occasions misreads her sources. …

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