From Beit Jala to Cologne... discussions focus on media

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From Beit Jala to Cologne... discussions focus on media

By Fr. Rif'at Bader

Over a two-day period, an international conference has been held in Cologne to discuss the role of the "Christian Television" in the Middle East region. Sat 7 TV was chosen as a model for discussion and exchange of views owing to the fact that it is one of the oldest television stations and due to its popularity.

What is important in this regard is to listen to reports that had earlier been prepared with regards to the influence of Christian media in general in a region which the least can be referred to as suffering from conflagration or rather continuous conflagrations. Furthermore, views were exchanged on the achievements of Sat 7 satellite station over the past 20 years.

The discussions were conducted in the presence of a number of media experts in the East, with the participation of directors of renowned Christian institutions in Germany, and in the presence of Sat 7 TV station founder Dr. Terence Ascott and senior officials in charge of programs and international relations. Discussions also focused on the languages used in this television station, namely Arabic, Persian, Turkish and English.

I would like to draw an association between this event and what happened a few days ago in the Beit Jala township in Palestine, at the Seminary associated with the Latin Patriarchate, where I had the honor to deliver a lecture about the role of contemporary media and social media networking in pastoral work with Christians and the rest of our people in our Holy Land.

The two conferences in Beit Jala and Cologne are related. The Christian media remain an inseparable part of social media which we talk about and use on daily bases. The role of Christian clergymen has earlier been little. Watching clergymen on local television stations used to trigger reactions among people. Nowadays, mere watching clergymen on television stations is not sufficient, where the focus of attention has become on listening to priests while they talk about topics related to the Church, to society and to the world, as well as to their ability and the ability of the believers to talk about subjects related to religion and world affairs, and means to reconcile them, in addition to highlighting the peaceful role of religion in the current turbulent societies.

The two conferences showed that discussion of Christian affairs on TV stations has become a normal affair. It is important to focus on the content rather than on the number of programs and their durations.

Following the discussion that ensued with young priests, I focused on the statement made by Patriarch Michel Sabbah on the day I was ordained to priesthood. He said: "The society you are heading to today needs unity and love at all levels, namely in the parish itself, in the diocese itself, among the various Churches with their rites and their various ecclesial and civil entities, in the field of serving love, in the ecumenical service, and in serving dialogue between religions. This is one of the priorities of the message of today, even though it seems to you sometimes, or rather several times that walking in this direction is against the prevailing current. Whoever acts with the strength of the spirit, receives this infinite power from God."

I believe that these bases, namely the parish, the diocese, the unity of the Churches, the Islamic-Christian dialogue, or the national and societal issues are very useful when we talk about the impact of media outlets. It is important not to ignore other issues of prime importance such as those related to justice and peace (including social work with the refugees and the forcibly displaced, human and family rights, as well as environmental affairs that concern the entire human family).

The Christian issues in our Arab societies is not separate from these societies, as they serve as an active contributor to the development of society as well as a proponent of human dignity and cooperation with fellow human beings to build a better future.

In Cologne I was able to see some of its main landmarks particularly the cathedral which is one of the world's largest cathedrals.

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