"Building the Civilization of Love"
Learn how HM Television became involved in spreading the truth about the persecuted Church. Through the Wake Up Project and other initiatives, HM Television gives a voice to souls who fight every day for their faith and help other people to live their faith with greater conviction and courage.
When and why have you started to make television programs about persecuted Christians?
It all started in 2007 when we began to publish daily international and ecclesial news. We discovered that Christianity was being attacked just as violently as in the first centuries of the Church. In 2010 the Islamic State (ISIS) began to enter Iraq. We were deeply moved by the attack on Our Lady of Salvation, a parish in Baghdad. The entire parish was martyred for their faith and fidelity to Christ. Our immediate reaction was, “We must do something!” At the same time, Pope Benedict XVI asked Catholic movements, Catholic media, and all Christian faithful to collaborate in the “urgent need” of giving a voice to our persecuted brothers and sisters who were dying for the faith, a voice ignored by the world and silence by the most powerful global media.
We put ourselves in the hands of the Lord and began to take steps to respond to this need of the Church. Overcoming many obstacles, we managed to publish three reports from countries where this persecution was taking place. The testimonies were extremely difficult to obtain because there was a great fear of repercussions. Those who spoke knew that they put their own lives in danger, along with the lives of their own people and even their own families. It seemed like it would be impossible to continue this apostolate.
That was the beginning, and from there, much to our surprise, we have not stopped recording.
Can the information you publish be found on other television channels or mass media?
It is extremely rare. In fact, the scarce coverage given to these shocking yet illuminating events is what made us get started. How often does the secular media let the world know that more religious persecution has taken place in the 20th century than in any other throughout all of history, and this continues today? Or that Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world?
While other groups and minorities who “feel discriminated” are constantly present in the media, the fact that anti-christianity or “christianophobia” frequently leads to martyrdom is totally silenced, even by Christians and Catholics who do hear about it. This is a great sin of omission in our comfortable Western society. Perfect silence is kept for political and financial reasons. And perhaps the silence kept by baptized souls is caused by the fear of being persecuted themselves for speaking out and letting this truth be heard. This is a symptom of the lack of love they have for the Truth Himself: Christ.
Are those who have carried out this work members of your community?
Yes. Thanks to the fact that the Home of the Mother has expanded in Europe, North America and South America in its different branches (lay members, Servant Sisters and Servant Brothers and Priests), we have been able to contact many institutions and ecclesial movements that have helped put us in contact with cardinals, bishops, priests, missionaries, Christians and Catholics who have suffered different types of persecution in so many countries of the world. Through interviews, we ask them to tell us about their experiences and their day to day life in those countries of persecution.
The EUK Mamie Foundation and HM Television team does most of the editing, dubbing, and translating. People from other movements in the Church also collaborate with us from different parts of the world (including the Middle East). When they see our authentic search for the truth, our desire to evangelize through these programs and initiatives, and the fact that all of it is done without charge, they feel moved to collaborate in one way or another to help respond to this need of the Church which becomes more urgent every day.
Where do you get the images? Are you worried that the people who appear in the videos are in greater danger as a result?
We try to be prudent in the use of the material that reaches us. We publish those images that other ecclesial movements and institutions send us, sometimes exclusively. This guarantees that everything we show is true, witnessed directly by missionaries or people of faith who give us the material. The persecutors themselves sometimes publish their own actions in an attempt to be more present in the media. We use these images as well, always citing our sources, to make it even clearer that this persecution is truly taking place and that those who realize it do so openly.
How have you managed to contact the leaders of the churches, priests and religious?
It is a miracle of God’s providence that never ceases to amaze us.
Fortunately, in Spain several organizations and associations are directly involved in making this reality known. They constantly bring direct witnesses of the religious persecution such as bishops, priests, and missionaries, to give lectures and talk to people about what they and their people have suffered, especially in those countries that have recently undergone war and destruction. We do whatever we can within our possibilities to request exclusive interviews to help spread these messages. If you organize a conference, you can reach a very limited group of people. If you manage to get these words in the media, you can reach a lot more people.
Through our work we have gained the trust of the individuals we interview and the organizers of these conferences, who are always willing to facilitate recordings.
The gratitude expressed by those who participate encourages us to continue.
What do you do with the videos other than putting them on Youtube? Are other TV channels or other groups asking for them?
The most effective means of spreading these programs are Youtube and social networking. We have received a lot of support from the Institute of the Incarnate Word, present in all these countries. They are the first to spread our programs through their extensive social networks. Several television channels have shown interest in our programs and are broadcasting them in Spanish and English. With this project, we have inspired other movements to embark on initiatives similar to ours, which fills us with joy because we are conscious of how much work needs to be done.
What audience do you want to reach?
We want to reach all audiences: young people, adults, elderly. We want our programs to be useful to people who need to prepare meetings, catechism, meditations, etc. We also want to reach the hearts of children, whose prayer is so powerful. The entire Wake Up Project, as well as the “In the footsteps of the Nazarene” series are aimed at awakening in every soul the unconditional love of the Faith and adherence to it, whatever their life circumstances.
Our focus, however, is to reach young people through these initiatives and to strengthen their faith. We are convinced that the persecuted Church is full of examples for them to follow, so they will keep the faith in their hearts and in their way of life. But everyone can learn from our current martyrs, a great treasure in the Church.
How do people respond to these videos? Why do you think some videos have not reached more people? What are the most popular videos?
The response of the European and Latin American public to “Wake Up” and “In the Footsteps of the Nazarene” has been generous and widespread since the beginning. We have become an important reference in the field of Christian persecution, since everything we publish comes from the lips of the witnesses themselves and of the pastors who remain in these persecuted areas.
The spread of our projects has always been much more complex in North America. Powerful groups (political or non-political) of North America have silenced authentic realities and testimonies from countries of persecution. The North American policy (like that of other world powers such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, England, and Germany) has protected this situation in many of the most cruelly persecuted areas for decades, though Americans are for the most part unaware of this. This censure occurs through the media. The same information from the lips of the witnesses that has reached Europe and South America has been ignored and distorted in North America. The little information that has reached North America conceals certain governments or persecutors, provoking ignorance and desensitization towards these world and ecclesial realities, and creating a distorted vision of religious persecution.
The Islamic state has been defeated, at least in part. Are they still a threat to Christians?
The mass media has led us to believe that the only threat that haunts persecuted Christians is the Islamic State. The Islamic State certainly does persecute Christians, faithfully living out Jihad in response to the Qur’an. The Islamic State is not, however, the only group responsible for the persecution of Christianity. We must not forget the persecution by communists, Hindus, and many other groups and governments that discriminate Christians and violate their rights.
If we focus on the Jihadist persecution, on the news about the Islamic State and the survival of Christianity in the countries it has trodden, we could say that the threat of Christians does not depend on the existence and presence of the Islamic State, but on the governments that protect the Islamic State and similar radical groups. This support and protection normally consists in strategic economic concessions which reaffirm the radicalism of their principles and actions and cause the destruction of Christianity in its entirety, at least in those areas. Iraq and Egypt are a clear example of this: before the Islamic State, other smaller but no less aggressive groups horribly persecuted and martyred Christians. The goal of having a total tolerance of Christianity in majority Muslim countries continues to be farfetched, regardless of the presence or absence of the Islamic State.
Do you keep in contact with all those you have interviewed?
We have tried to keep in contact with many. Some have even visited our community, and we try to keep them up-to-date with all the programs that come out. We have promoted initiatives to help them in their place of mission, and above all we accompany them with our prayer. They are seeds of hope for us.
Are you making any video about the restoration in Iraq and Syria, if it is in fact happening?
The Holy See, through the Pontifical Foundation Aid to the Church in Need has a reconstruction project for the entire Nineveh Plain, which was and is the most Christian area in Iraq, and this project has already begun. They have a lot of courage, because there is a risk that it could be destroyed again. Religious congregations, institutions, ecclesial movements and Christians are the only brave protectors of displaced Christians and refugees. Catholics of different rites and Christians of different denominations are joining together, forming one heart alone, so that Iraq can return to what it was from the beginning: a Christian and Catholic country. We cover all the initiatives that are being carried out for this end, giving these Christians a voice in our interviews of “In the footsteps of the Nazarene” and promoting collaboration through our social networks: Facebook (#Wakeنp) and Twitter (@wakeup_N).
Are you worried people will forget about this issue?
Certainly. If we forget about this, knowing from first hand witnesses that the situation continues, things are simply not right in our hearts, starting with our life of Faith and communion.
Has the Home of the Mother achieved what it intended with this work?
We think so. When the Home of the Mother created the EUK Mamie Foundation as a means of evangelization through the media, this is the motto we chose: “Yesterday, today, and always the Truth.” We hoped to be a light in the midst of the troubled and confused society in which we live. We are open to continuing our work where the Church needs us. We simply cannot let the blood shed by so many of our brothers and sisters be ignored. They are today’s martyrs and they will doubtless become the seed of new Christians.
HM Magazine; nº202 May-June 2018