MOSCOW, JUNE 20, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The International Union of Catholic Journalists is meeting in Moscow to analyze the situation that prevails between the Russian media and the topic of religion.
Focusing on the theme “Russia, Beyond the Myths and Stereotypes: Moral Values, Religion and the Media,” some 40 journalists from around the world are meeting for the first time in the Russian capital to reflect on the challenges of religious journalism in the country, as well as the role played, and which should be played, in an environment of religious diversity.
“Russia is a multicultural country of varied religious traditions,” said Archbishop Antonio Mennini, Vatican representative to the Russian Federation, in a message sent to the participants. “The majority of the population professes the Christian faith represented in Orthodox believers.
“In its history, this country has lived through many difficulties and challenges, but it has remained faithful to its Christian roots. The role of every Catholic journalist is to discover the Christian truth and to enrich the faithful with Christian values.”
Ismar de Oliveira Soares, president of the International Union of Catholic Journalists, was enthusiastic that the three-day meeting was being held in Russia.
This “is not only a country that has given us Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, Chagall and the Bolshoi Ballet,” he said. “Russia has much to offer the world in her art, science, technology and decision to go forward in freedom, enthusiasm and commitment.
“With the help of professionals of the Russian media, we will explore how we can contribute to sustainable development. We believe that we journalists are the appropriate ones to address these topics and thus influence different situations as, for example, to support solidarity and human rights anywhere in the world.”
“We are not gathered here to promote some kind of sectarian propaganda, but to be united in a significant contribution toward the common good,” said de Oliveira when welcoming leaders of other confessions, as well as producers, researchers and journalists gathered for the event. The event ends Wednesday.
For his part, Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, of the Archdiocese of the Mother of God in Moscow, pointed out that the meeting was taking place just shortly after Benedict XVI warned, in his message for World Communications Day, about the danger of remaining satisfied with “a private or apparent truth.”
“When the media only serves itself or seeks financial profit, it loses all sense of responsibility for the common good,” Archbishop Kondrusiewicz pointed out. “In this case, Catholic journalists are called to be ‘leaven’ of objectivity and truth, even when their voices seems ‘voices crying in the desert’ amid the cacophony of falsification of modern means of communication.”
Proof of the great responsibility of communicators and journalists was corroborated by Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, vice president of the Foreign Relations Department of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow. In his opinion, thanks to the media, a religious “renaissance” is taking place in Russia.
“In the last five years, and thanks in part to the fact that television and the press began to touch on topics such as what it means to have faith and to go to Church, people began to frequent churches more,” explained the archpriest.
The Geneva-based International Union of Catholic Journalists was born in Belgium in 1917, in the last year of Word War I, for the purpose of guaranteeing freedom of expression for journalists and communicators.