Saturday, May 05, 2007

Papal paparazzi

~from CNS

They are not pushy or pesky; rather, the pope's own paparazzi are the epitome of discretion and class.

Vatican photographers stand out from other media shutterbugs, not just because they're always dressed in ironed dark suits and ties, but because, coolly clicking away, they are the ones standing right next to the pope.

The papal photographers are also the only ones allowed to shadow the pontiff almost everywhere he goes, even during more private moments -- be they special audiences inside the Vatican with heads of state or an intimate luncheon with cardinals or bishops.

According to the head of the Vatican's photo service, Salesian Father Giuseppe Colombara, the job of the four official papal photographers is to create a visual record of the pope's activities and important Vatican events.

With the click of a shutter, photographers immortalize an "unrepeatable masterpiece of an instant," he said...

...Father Colombara said the best pictures of any pope are the ones in which he "radiates human warmth" and when his fatherly face "points to the very meaning of (his) mission: the person of Jesus."

While pictures of Pope John Paul at Jerusalem's Western Wall or Pope Benedict in a Turkish mosque have important historical value, sometimes it's the simpler shots of a pope hugging a child or praying the rosary that have a greater, more emotional impact on the viewer.

"A beautiful photo, a beautiful image offers an entryway, the first step of evangelization," Father Colombara said.

When a picture of a pope expresses "love, welcoming, understanding, acceptance," it can "make the church loved very, very much and be very appreciated by almost everyone," whatever their faith belief may be, he said.

Just as the church hired great painters and sculptors to depict the beauty and mystery of God and the Gospels, it also has employed the power of the photograph, which can be highly effective in a world where "the image is everything," he said.

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