In a rare move, the Vatican has officially recognized the public communications organization SIGNIS as a Catholic association, which, according to a Vatican official, happens less than once a year. “SIGNIS is called to form lay Catholics who work in the media to be truly salt and light, and to be a leaven that transforms the world from within,” Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko said in the Oct. 24 ceremony for the consignment of the Decree of erection of the International Association. The cardinal, who serves as president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, told the organization that their Christian witness “is important for the Church and for the world. The Church needs this, and counts on you as part of its mission of evangelizing the world of today.” SIGNIS, officially known as the World Catholic Association for Communication, is a non-governmental organization composed of members of 140 countries who work throughout the world in the fields of radio, television, cinema, video, media education, Internet and new technology professions. Created in 2001 by the merger of two former organizations, SIGNIS works specifically to engage media professionals and help support Catholic communicators through training programs, supplying equipment, the promotion of films or TV programs, the production and distribution of programs and the creation of radio, video and television studios. By promoting human dignity, justice and reconciliation, the organization seeks to transform a secular culture with the light of the Gospel. The Vatican’s council for the laity, alongside the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, who share in overseeing the newly approved International Association of the Faithful, described in an Oct. 24 statement how it is necessary to train Christians in order to give proper voice to their ideas and contributions. “In order to efficaciously offer her contribution to culture, evangelization today has to include all means of communication. In this field the role of lay faithful is irreplaceable,” the statement read. Reference was then made to St. John Paul II’s encyclical letter “Redemptoris Missio” when the pontiff said that “The first Areopagus of the modern age is the world of communications.” Therefore “it is necessary that those Christians who have access to the ‘New Areopaguses’ be able to give voice to their ideas, and for this reason operators in the field should be adequately and effectively prepared,” the statement continued. The Areopagus is a small marble hill that sits next to the Acropolis in Athens, and is traditionally believed to be the site where St. Paul delivered his well-known speech on the identity of “the Unknown God,” which is recorded in chapter 17 of the bible’s “Acts of the Apostles.” In addition to its official approval as a Catholic organization, SIGNIS also has consultative statutes with United Nations in Geneva and New York, and with the Council of Europe.