Vatican Insider interviews Mark von Riedmann, director of Catholic Radio and Television Network and international communications coordinator for Aid to the Church in Need.
CRTN is a Catholic network specialising in the production and distribution of documents and radio, television and Internet broadcasts, created in 1987 with the help of ACS. Its aim was to support the overhaul of Christian media and promote the revival of religious education in Eastern Europe.
CRTN and ACS have been producing Where God Weeps (www.wheregodweeps.org) - a weekly television news programme on the persecution of the Catholic Church - since 2005.The programme is broadcast via the Internet and various broadcasters across the English speaking world, including the U.S. Catholic television network EWTN.
Q: Dr. Riedemann, why was Where God Weeps created and what are the challenges for Catholic networks in the current media landscape?
It was created to give a voice to those who are experiencing persecution and the Church’s suffering first hand: bishops, missionaries, clerics, women religious and lay experts. We make documentaries and carry out interviews on site, often relying on local crew. We also give the floor to visitors from all across the world who come to ACS’ international headquarters in Königstein, in search of help. Christians are not just in need of financial support. Many of them feel isolated because no one understands their suffering.
Q: So you let the protagonists of this persecution speak?
We limit ourselves to offering a channel for them to describe the conditions in which they are living. In cases where this in not possible - due to fear or serious limitations to an individual’s religious freedom - we take it upon ourselves to speak for them. Christians suffer as a result of Islamic fundamentalism, nationalist extremism and persecution perpetrated by the State. If their vocation is to stay in Countries such as China, Iraq and Pakistan, ours, as communicators is to help them voice their stories.
Q: You started working at CRTN in 1991. At the time you were putting together a radio programme in Russian for Catholics and Orthodox faithful living in the former Soviet Union...
The broadcast was entitled “Radio Blagovest. A call to prayer” and content ranged from catechesis to news on religion. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Russian state television asked us to put together similar productions to be broadcast on local television stations. Today, in Russia, Blagovest Media broadcasts programmes across 14 networks.
- Marti Petrosillo
The media’s portrayal of the persecuted Church (Vatican Insider)