Midnight Mass at St Peter's Basilica tonight, and the Pope's Urbi et Orbi message at midday Rome time tomorrow, will be televised live to 72 countries. The Pontifical Council for Social Communications has announced that 111 television broadcasters will air the midnight Mass across five continents. 114 networks will carry the Pope's traditional message on Christmas Day. In Europe the broadcast will be available in 38 countries; in the Americas (North and South) to 19 countries. The Mass will be telecast to nations as diverse as Algeria and Russia, Burundi and Turkey, Israel and India. The broadcast Mass will not be available in China. But at midnight Beijing time, a Christmas Mass will be celebrated in Chinese at Vatican Radio and broadcast live. Pietro Chiami, who manages Chinese-language programming for Vatican Radio, said the broadcast has been made every year since 1985. He said: "It gives the Catholics of China the opportunity to follow the Mass-- particularly those who cannot, for different reasons, find a church to attend." Pope Pius XII inaugurated the practice of broadcasting the Christmas Mass throughout Europe from the Vatican basilica, in 1954. In 1969 it was made available in Chile and Argentina. Five years later, the first satellite broadcasts were transmitted from the Vatican, and 44 countries had access to the Christmas Mass celebrated by Pope Paul VI in 1974. The telecast will also be available live on the Internet, through the websites of Vatican TV and the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN).
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