Catholic Media's Uphill Struggle in Russia

Editor of Svet Evangelia Says Cash Is Short

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MADRID, Spain, FEB. 16, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The life of Catholic journalists who wish to dedicate themselves to religious information is very difficult, says the editor of a Russian Catholic weekly.

The greatest problem facing such journalists is the «lack of means,» said Victor Khroul, in an interview with ZENIT. Khroul also bears the title of director of the Information Center of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Russia.

The weekly he oversees, Svet Evangelia (Light of the Gospel), has just celebrated its 10th anniversary and received the Titus Brandsma Award of the International Catholic Union of the Press.

Last year, for a time, «we had to close the magazine because of financial problems, and the team was dispersed,» Khroul recalled. «Many journalists don’t want to return now because they have a family and opt for more solid work.»

«Although we have obtained funds to continue one more year, next year we will be in the same position,» lamented the editor, who is also a journalism professor at Moscow State University.

«We Russian Catholics cannot subsist without foreign support, and it would be good if a foundation were created for Catholic media in Russia and in the countries of Eastern Europe,» he said. «Without money we cannot make strategic plans nor think of communicative initiatives.»

«In the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, especially the archbishop president John P. Foley, they are concerned about the situation we are enduring,» said Khroul, who is married and the father of three children.

He continued: «We are a minority and so are our means. Clearly, we cannot try to be competitive as, for example, the Catholic newspaper La Croix in France which competes with Le Monde.»

«The non-religious media have a very positive attitude toward the Catholic Church, more than that, I would add that their attitude is one of profound interest,» Khroul said. «In fact, our relationship with the secular media depends much on what we can offer, and it is our task to do it well, to be available.»

«To be transparent and tell the truth,» he said, «journalists are lazy people, and if you give them a well-written press note, they will take the information exactly as it is, make a few changes, and their news item will be ready.»

«In Russia we have meetings with the journalists of the important media at least twice a year. The bishops attend and in an informal atmosphere we talk about everything in a very pleasant way,» Khroul explained.

Yet, all is not perfect, he added. «Our Catholic newspaper, for example, cannot be put on sale in kiosks. We would be accused of proselytism, of stealing souls, and of unfair play.»

«However, my dream is that we might be on the Internet. Anyone can go look there and if they want more information they can ask for it with just a click,» he said. «And it will have to be in Russian but also in English, because if we appear only in Russian we will be a silent Church.»

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