updated 5/26/2009 3:54:29 PM ET 2009-05-26T19:54:29

Vatican Radio said Tuesday it will start running commercials for the first time in its 78-year history, interspersing the pope's messages with "ideologically" sound publicity spots.

The first ads from Italian energy giant Enel will start running July 6 in five languages: Italian, English, Spanish, French and German, officials said at a news conference.

Previously, it wasn't realistic to run advertisements since Vatican Radio had limited broadcast times on short-wave stations, said the Rev. Federico Lombardi, the head of Vatican Radio and the Vatican's chief spokesman. Now, though, the pope's broadcaster runs 24-hour programming on FM stations in much of Italy, and via Internet for the rest of the world.

"This programming, with an increasingly stable public, is naturally a place where publicity can more logically be inserted," Lombardi said.

Founded in 1931, Vatican Radio broadcasts the pope's messages and news of the Catholic Church, and current affairs in 40 languages around the world.

Monsignor Renato Boccardo, secretary general of the Vatican City state administration, said the Holy See's aim wasn't purely to make money but to collaborate with other institutions.

"There is an ideological aspect that supports everything: the will and desire to bring about initiatives that are at the service of all," he said.

An Italian communications firm specializing in publicity for Catholic media, MAB.q, will screen potential clients for quality and ethical content and propose them to the Vatican, officials said.

The Vatican has two other main news outlets: CTV, the Vatican television operation, and the daily newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, which runs selected advertisements.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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