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TV producer aims to promote Catholic, Russian Orthodox relations

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    2004.11.02 CNS: RUSSIA-TV Nov-2-2004 (560 words) With photo. xxxi TV producer aims to promote Catholic, Russian Orthodox relations By Agostino Bono Catholic
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 3, 2004
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      2004.11.02 CNS:
      RUSSIA-TV Nov-2-2004 (560 words) With photo. xxxi
      TV producer aims to promote Catholic, Russian Orthodox relations

      By Agostino Bono
      Catholic News Service

      WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Believing that the camera is mightier than the sword,
      a Russian TV producer is promoting ecumenism in Russia through television
      documentaries.

      Nick Goryachkin heads the Blagovest-Media Foundation, based in St.
      Petersburg, Russia, which produces television programs on the similarities
      between Catholicism and Russian Orthodoxy.

      "Blagovest" in Russian means "good news."

      Throughout Russian history, the Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox
      Church have been antagonists rather than "sister churches," he said.

      But the fall of the Communist-ruled Soviet Union opened the door to a
      rediscovery of Russia's spiritual roots and to promoting tolerance and
      respect among religions as part of that spiritual heritage, said
      Goryachkin, a Russian Orthodox.

      He was interviewed Oct. 29 in Washington while visiting the United States
      to contact church and media organizations.

      One of the foundation's future projects is to film a documentary about
      the Orthodox Church in the United States, he said.

      "I want to tell about the Orthodox Church; how it is a minority but is
      respected and has influence; how it is possible for churches to exist
      together," he said.

      The Russian Orthodox Church has historically been the most important and
      influential in Russia, claiming an overwhelming majority of the population.
      Catholics account for less than 1 percent of the 145 million inhabitants.

      Goryachkin said the antagonisms of the past do not have to be the example
      of the future for the Russian Orthodox and Catholic churches.

      "We are trying to build bridges on a cultural level between churches," he
      said. "The churches have different traditions and cultures, but they are
      not enemies."

      "Our general mission is to show how to have respect among different
      religions and to be united as Christians," he said.

      Goryachkin said the documentaries, which he also directs, explain that
      for the first 1,000 years of Christianity, the two churches were united.

      In 2003, he directed a documentary concerning a Russian Orthodox abbot
      who, during a pilgrimage to Rome, visits and comments on Christian sites
      common to both Catholics and Orthodox, he said.

      The documentary sparked among viewers an interest in pilgrimages to Rome,
      he said. "Before that, Rome was considered the capital of the enemy."

      In 1995, the foundation began a documentary series about the seven
      Orthodox sacraments and the seven Catholic sacraments, he said.

      In February, Goryachkin plans to begin filming in Brazil a documentary on
      a Catholic priest working with drug addicts. It will be part of a
      documentary that also shows a Russian Orthodox priest doing the same work
      in Russia.

      "The Catholic and Orthodox priests are the two heroes in the documentary,
      which shows how they work in the same way," he said.

      Blagovest-Media has contracts to show its programs with one national
      channel and eight regional channels, giving it a potential audience of 80
      million Russians, Goryachkin said.

      A Russian Orthodox and Catholic priest serve as advisers for its programs.

      Beside producing its own documentaries, Blagovest-Media dubs religious
      programming from other countries into Russian and markets its own programs
      abroad, he said.

      Blagovest-Media was founded in 1991 and is affiliated with the
      Germany-based Catholic Radio and Television Network, which produces and
      distributes international religious programming. The foundation also
      receives support from the Germany-based Catholic charity, Aid to the Church
      in Need.

      Blagovest-Media publishes a weekly bulletin in Moscow about Russian and
      international religious news. The bulletin has 500 subscribers in Russia
      and abroad, Goryachkin said.

      Copyright (c) 2004 Catholic News Service/USCCB. All rights reserved.

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