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New foundation aims to preserve Catholic audiovisual culture

Man recording audio visuals

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V. M. Traverso - published on 05/06/23

The newly founded MAC organization will act as a gateway to Catholic culture’s digitized media, preserving them for centuries to come.

For centuries the Vatican Library worked to preserve the immense textual and artistic heritage of Catholicism. and as our society increasingly moves towards new types of media, so do the Catholic faithful. Documentaries, films or recorded interviews created in more recent decades have become an integral part of Catholic culture. 

Now, a new organization aims to preserve the ever expanding array of Catholic culture’s audiovisual heritage through digitization and archival projects.

As explained in a press release, the newly launched foundation, called MAC or “Memorie Audiovisive del Cattolicesimo” (Audiovisual Memories of Catholicism), is chaired by Msgr. Dario Edoardo Viganò and was created with the mission to “preserve and curate Catholic culture’s vast audiovisual heritage.”

The MAC archive will be “a great digital archive and portal of studies and documentation available to everyone,” said Gianluca della Maggiore, director of the International Research Center on Catholicism and Audiovisual Studies (CAST). One of the major goals of the organization will be to create a single online access point uniting separate archives that currently host Catholic audiovisual media

“Our strength is our ability to collaborate and the high standards of our work,” the president of MAC said in a statement, “MAC is indeed made of people that work at the highest level in the fields of audiovisual file studies and conservation.” 

The organization hopes to collaborate with universities, research entities, archival institutions, and cinematographic associations to collectively preserve Catholic culture’s audiovisual heritage. “We envision our organization as the node of an expanding network that works towards this goal,” MAC’s President further explained

Last Tuesday, the foundation’s scientific committee gathered at the Vatican Apostoplic Library and read a letter sent by Pope Francis. 

“It seems significant to me,” the Pope wrote, “that your institution, thanks to the involvement of the most important film archival and academic institutions, proposes a vision and a method based on the sharing of heritage and the highest skills and resources at the service of the transmission of the audiovisual memory of Catholicism.”

Pope Francis also reminded MAC’s scientific committee that their organization was created during the 60th anniversary of the “Inter Mirifica” decree in which Pope Paul VI acknowledged audiovisual media as gifts from God. Since then, the Pope explained, audiovisual technologies have developed at great speed creating a previously unimaginable quantity of images and videos. “It’s now time to stop and collect this heritage in order to preserve our collective memory,” the Pope added. 

Finally, Pope Francis said that, in the wake of John Paul II’s 2005 apostolic letter La cura vigilantissima in which John Paul II called for the expansion of the Church’s archives, he ultimately hopes for the creation of a new institution that would function as the Central Audiovisual Archive of the Holy See and of the entire Church. 

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