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Forty years of Radio Veritas Asia’s Mandarin Service

Wednesday 20 July 2016, by SIGNIS

Beijing, July, 20th, 2016 (Ucanews). Programmes produced by the radio service have been a vital source of support for isolated Catholics in China for the last 40 years.

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Bishop Philip Huang of Hualien (center) and the managing members of RVA

Earlier this month, celebrations commemorating the 40thanniversary of the Mandarin Service took place at RVA headquarters in Manila. Father Raymond Ambroise, executive secretary of the Office of Social Communication of the Federation of Asia Bishops’ Conferences explained the creation of the radio.

He said that the idea came in 1956, when Asian bishops convened a meeting in Manila to express their concerns and explore ways to answer the needs of Chinese Catholics. At that time, Catholics suffered oppression and lost their link with the universal church. The bishops decided that radio was the best way to let Chinese Catholics hear the message of the church and so the Mandarin Service was established. "But their work was and is not without difficulties," said Father Ambroise. Chinese authorities interfered and blocked their signal and, recently, their website too.

During the celebration, RVA workers also used the event to find ways to use the internet to strengthen communication with Chinese Catholics. Three months ago, the Mandarin Service set up a Wechat public account that has had 600,000 visitors.

Established in 1976, the Mandarin Service is one of 15 language services from the RVA. Besides producing audio, the Mandarin service also creates video programs.

Internet development has helped the Mandarin service reach out further. Now people can download programs and listen to them at any time. Besides Wechat, the RVA has accounts on Facebook, Youku and YouTube so it’s convenient for Chinese Catholics to connect to the voice of the Church.

"Forty years was not very long but God’s grace [was there] every moment," said Bishop Phillip Huang of Hualien, chair of Taiwan bishops’ social communication office.

RVA programs were a vital source of support for Catholics who were isolated from the physical community of the Church, the bishop said. "In some cases, it also helps non-believers obtain teachings and guidance," he said. "Some get baptized and become the children of God."

Pope Pius XII had the idea of establishing a permanent Catholic radio station in Asia but it was Pope John XXIII who implemented the idea. Radio Veritas Asia was established on April 11, 1969 and two months later the Mandarin Service began its initial broadcast. Pope John Paul II in 1999 referred to Radio Veritas as an "excellent instrument of mission."

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