Here’s 2020’s first dispatch from the crossroads of faith and media: As the mainstream gears up for its reliably all-holds barred coverage of this Friday’s annual March for Life in Washington, comes this new Marist poll (admittedly paid for by the Catholic organization Knights of Columbus) which shows that a majority actually support meaningful abortion […]
Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.
The Church in the world. While the Catholic Church is no stranger to news headlines (for both good and not-so-good reasons), little is known by the general public about its full-throttle engagement with the United Nations on issues related to such matters refugees, religious freedom and general human right. Christian Peschken, a Catholic filmmaker and producer, decided to change that by creating the Geneva-based Pax Press Agency, a news service dedicated bringing those efforts to the attention of the world.
JWK: Tell me about Pax Press Agency and your role there?
CHRISTIAN PESCHKEN: When I went to Geneva, Switzerland for business purposes, I became aware of the United Nations, and in that context noticed the strong involvement of the Holy See Mission Geneva , and many Catholic organizations in Geneva at the U.N. I was curious and started researching this and met with the Nuncio H.E. Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Permanent Observer of the Holy See at the U.N. Geneva. On one hand I was truly impressed about the extensive work of the Holy See, and other Catholic organizations at the U.N. but on the other hand I was stunned that the wider public, and even Catholics know little, or nothing, about this.
As filmmaker and producer who happens to be Catholic, media evangelization is part of my life’s mission, and so I created Pax Press Agency, Geneva, as a vehicle to report to the world about the Catholic Church’s work at the U.N. (in) Geneva.
My goal is to help the image of the Church and to educate people (especially Catholics) about the importance and impact of the Catholic Church’s participation in the global forum of the United Nations, Geneva.
H.E. Archbishop Tomasi, Martin Rothweiler, Managing Director of EWTN Germany (a part of Eternal Word Television Network) and particularly Rev. Frederico Lombardi (Vatican Press Secretary, & Director of Vatican Radio) liked my concept and where, and still are, very supportive. Recently we also receive support from ‘Aid to the Church in Need’ , Germany.
I named my project ‘Pax Press Agency’, not Pax News Agency, because what we do is we make our audio-visual documentations and reports available to the News Media, but we ourselves do not ‘make’ news.
CP: Why the U.N. Geneva and not U.N. New York?
The U.N. (in) Geneva services more than 8,000 meetings every year, making it one of the busiest conference centers in the world. With more than 1,600 staff, it is the biggest duty stations outside of United Nations headquarters in New York. Well..I think its an important place to be for the Catholic Church… and my agency.
JWK: How effective has the worldwide media been in covering the recent attacks on Christians and Jews in places like in Iraq, Libya and even (in the case of Jews) Paris by Islamic extremists?
CP: All the crimes that you mentioned are condemnable, and were committed by extremists.
I think that many members of the World News Media have been “very effective”. Because they tend to ‘generalize’, and that’s a form of extremism. They have divided, they still do. They have labeled races and religions, they still do. They helped to created classes of people and put people into different categories, they still do. All this instigates hatred and eventually causes violence.
I agree with Pope Francis who slammed extremists who ‘pervert religion’.
JWK: Pope Francis has said the the 22 Coptic Christians murdered by ISIS in Libya were killed because of their Christian faith but the White House office seems to have a hard time saying that — initially calling the victims “Egyptian citizens.” Your thoughts?
CP: Look, Pope Francis did exactly what a leader of a religion does, he commented from his point of view. The White House provided its point of view. I personally share Pope Francis’ statement, because it’s the truth.
JWK: Of course, many peaceful Muslims live oppose and, often, live in fear of ISIS. How can the media honestly cover the nature of the extremist threat while not unfairly labeling all Muslims?
CP: Like I said earlier. Generalization and labeling is dangerous and always unjust. They have to stop labeling and instead provide facts, not opinions. Less polemic, less agenda driven, and more fairness. If the media would cover with honesty, the world would be a more peaceful place!
JWK: In general, how well does the media cover contentious issues involving religious belief – such as abortion, euthanasia, gay marriage and the like?
CP: As far as the secular media. Well, from their point of view they’ve done a ‘great job’ so far. Their anti-religious, anti-God agenda (Note: if they are against Him, they must first believe He exists..if they do, there is hope) ‘new age’ thinking has helped to create a confused society. People are confused about laws and rights. They are confused about their gender identity, what authentic love is, the definition of a family and the role of the family. Direction is needed. I believe the Church that Christ has established, the Universal (Catholic) Church offers that direction. If we follow her direction everything will be fine, if we don;t, everything will get worse.
JWK: How might a Catholic journalist at the PAX Press Agency approach a subject differently then one from a secular news organization?
CP: Most secular news organizations try to opinionate. They manipulate their pieces to promote their agenda. They are not reporters, they are activists. Pax Press Agency is not a news organization. We ‘do not make news’. We are an agency. We simply document what the Church has said in the forum of the United Nations Geneva. Aside from short TV report versions, we also provide unadulterated original footage of the interventions, speeches by Church officials, so people can see and listen for themselves what really was said. Our footage can be used by any news organization, as long as it does not misrepresent the original message.
JWK: From your perspective, what world issues have been most poorly covered by the secular media – and what issues have been covered well?
CP: I think unless there is a celebrity, or a puppy or a baby involved, humanitarian issues in general are poorly covered (i.e. Boat People, Refugees). For every so called headline news today, they should provide more in-depth background, more facts to educate people. Regardless of specific issues, I would consider that then ‘well’ coverage.
JWK: What do you see as the most significant stories and issues as we move forward into 2015?
CP: Pope Francis said ‘Fight the hunger, Help the poor’. To me that’s the most important issue. Also to make education available to people, and to inspire them to co-exist with others, regardless of their race and religion. God created only one human race, and only one planet earth.
Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11