AID TO THE CHURCH IN NEED STEPS UP ITS SUPPORT FOR MEDIA PROJECTS
Sydney, 16th October 2002. The support given by the International Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) for Church radio and television stations, news agencies, newspapers and newsletters has grown steadily in recent years. Last year the aid given by the charity for media projects totalled over $17.3 million, or 16.1 percent of the total aid given by ACN.
The modern media are becoming increasingly important for the proclamation of the gospel and also for the social work of the Church. For the first time in our history it is now possible to broadcast the Word of God to almost all peoples. Today above all, where throughout the world our attitudes and values are increasingly shaped by the media, the Church must gratefully seize this opportunity and courageously make use of it.
The greater part - over 40 percent - of this aid goes for media projects in Central and Eastern Europe. In Russia, after the changes, ACN initially supported Church publications, but these mostly no longer depend on financial support. Now it is above all the radio stations that are being supported, such as the Christian Channel in Moscow, for example. Another important project is the religious news agency “Blagovest-Info”, which has now developed into a highly regarded interdenominational news agency in Russia. Other important projects in this region are the Church newspaper “Svet Evangelia” which is distributed throughout Russia, and the Slovakia-based “Radio Lumen”, a station run by the Slovakian bishops' conference.
In Africa there is frequently a lack of suitably trained personnel to run radio projects. And in many countries it is difficult to obtain permission from the authorities to run Church radio stations.
In Latin America by contrast, the Church radio stations are of great importance in proclaiming the Christian message. The shortage of priests often makes it difficult to reach all people with the Gospel and as a result, in many remote regions, the radio is the only contact people have with the outside world and their only source of formation and information. The Church radio stations do not restrict themselves to religious broadcasting alone, however. They also make an important contribution by advising on such everyday matters as child care, or health and nutrition.
For the Arab Christians in the Middle East and North Africa the Christian TV station SAT 7 was set up in 1995. It broadcasts Christian programmes in Arabic and has an ecumenical approach. In this way Arab Christians, whose numbers have been constantly falling in the Middle East and in North Africa, have been given a voice that is listened to and which shows the Muslims that Christianity is not a religion that has been imposed on them by the West.
In Asia, Aid to the Church in Need has been supporting Radio Veritas for over 30 years. This station, which was established at the prompting of Pope Pius XII, broadcasts in 17 different languages. In addition to its religious broadcasting, Radio Veritas strives to promote understanding between nations and increased harmony between the different religions of Asia, while at the same time defending human rights.
Another aspect of the aid given by ACN is the training of Christian journalists. Thus, for many years, Aid to the Church in Need supported the Robert Schumann School, in Brussels and later in the French town of Angers, which trains Christian journalists. And currently ACN is working together with the German agency, Renovabis, in supporting the European Centre for Communication and Culture (ECCC) in the town of Falencia, near Warsaw, Poland.
Photo: Listening to Radio Veritas Asia in a village in Uttar Dhaldanga Kurigram, in Bangladesh. These people are in a public square in the village of Kurigram. The meeting has been organised by the producers of the Bengali Programme from the Chitrabani Centre in West Bengal and the Banideepti Centre in Bangladesh. Since there is no permanent electricity supply in the village, the loudspeaker is powered by an accumulator. The listeners are for the most part Muslims.
Info Service of Aid to the Church in Need
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