For the first time ever, a state television channel in Russia will broadcast a documentary film about Pope Benedict XVI. At the climax of the film, the Pope will speak on television to the Russian people and express his regard for them, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) informs Catholic News Agency.
The Pope’s greeting is addressed to Patriarch Alexei II, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church; to Orthodox Christians; to Catholic bishops and lay Catholics in Russia; and to all those living on Russian soil. Pope Benedict’s address, which is partly in Russian, emphasizes the necessity of dialogue among Christians.
The documentary will be broadcast on April 16, Pope Benedict’s 81st birthday.
The documentary film, which was sponsored and promoted by the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, will be broadcast by the state news channel Vesti. The documentary depicts important stages in the life of Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI. Russian people are generally unfamiliar with his life.
The Pope’s elder brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, has also contributed to the film by granting an interview, something he seldom does.
ACN’s Russia expert, Peter Humeniuk, led the documentary project from the start. He said there is an awareness in both Rome and Moscow that the “film and the Papal message are a beautiful symbol of the process of rapprochement between the two Churches.”
"During my journeys throughout Russia,” Humeniuk continued, “I come across many people who express a desire for objective information about the Pope and the Catholic Church. I hope that the film about Benedict XVI will help to meet this need."
The documentary was created in close collaboration with the Moscow Patriarchate.
Support came from both Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, Vice-Chairman of the Russian Orthodox Church’s Department for External Church Relations, and Catholic Archbishop Antonio Mennini, the Apostolic Nuncio to Moscow. The film is introduced by Archpriest Igor Vyzhanov, the secretary for inter-Christian dialogue from the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations.
Blagovest Media, an interdenominational Christian media agency, produced the film in St. Petersburg in collaboration with the Germany-based Catholic Radio and Television Network.