Christian  and H.E. Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, Permanent Observer of theHoly See to the U.N. Geneva ,

 
Profiles in Catholicism
 

An Interview with Christian Peschken


by
Gordon Nary




 

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Gordon:   Please share your conversion story.
     
Christian:


 
 

We where encouraged to become Catholics through a TV program 'The Journey Home' on EWTN, and certainly the shows with Mother Angelica. Also we watched EWTN's mass regularly even before we officially entered the Catholic Church. 

My wife Patricia (she is American) was Mormon , I was Protestant ( I am German)  ... we converted to Catholicism in 2007 , and where officially received in the Catholic Church on Feb 11, 2011 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin at St. Stanislaus Parish. 

     
Gordon:   Please share with our readers your responsibilities as Correspondent U.N. Geneva  for EWTN and Catholic News Agency.
     
Christian:


















 
 

First let me point out that we are the first persons ever to produce TV reports about the activities of the Holy See and other Catholic organizations at the United Nations in Geneva.

This project that started 2014 was our own initiative.

The Nuncio (until 2016) Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Reverend Frederico Lombardi,  Order of Malta at the U.N. Geneva Ambassador Marie Therese Pictet-Althann  and Martin Rothweiler EWTN Germany where our first supporters who believed in this, never done before project.

We are accredited correspondents at the U.N. Geneva since 2014.

2015 / 16 I was the U.N. Geneva Correspondent for Vatican Radio (English Section) before in 2017 I became EWTN TV Correspondent.  

However my filmed reports where broadcast by EWTN since 2014 already in English and German. Later Catholic News Agency Germany was established and their chief editor Christoph Wimmer started to use the German, written versions of my TV reports (and later embedded my TV reports in German on their YouTube Channel). 

My responsibilities are editorial (subject , content selection, interview partners), filming (Camera), editing, Writing of the English and German Voice Over text, Voice Over (English and German). My wife works alongside, and we have one assistant and one, on a case by case basis, additional cameraman.  Our Office is at the Palais des Nations, Geneva.

We deliver 1 report, up to 5 minutes in length, every week to EWTN.         

 In November last year I received a personal letter from the Holy Father endorsing our work.

Here the link to our YouTube Channel Archive with over 400 pieces since 2014

     
Gordon:  

You also serve as Chair of the Pax Media Foundation. Please provide an overview of the foundation’s mission and work. 

     
Christian:



 
 

The inspiration to form this foundation this year came from Pope Francis' call to Inter-religious dialogue that must be grounded in a “full and forthright presentation” of different faiths’ respective convictions.  

I also believe that inter-religious dialogue is close connected to inter cultural dialogue, as religion is part of people's culture.

 The mission of the foundation is to financially and through consultancy support the mass media presence (production, marketing) in film, TV , radio, internet of interfaith and/or intercultural projects.

     
Gordon:   Approximately what percent of Switzerland is Catholic and what are some of the challenges to Catholicism in Switzerland?
     
Christian:
















 
 

To answer the first part of your question let me use numbers I researched : Christianity is the predominant religion of Switzerland. Roman Catholics make up approximately . 38% of the population. The Catholic Church is in the process of decreasing in Switzerland (probably in most of Europe). Currently, there are three Cardinals from Switzerland: Henri Schwery, Kurt Koch and Gilberto Agustoni, of whom one (Cardinal Koch) participated in the 2013 conclave.

Recently Young Catholics told Pope Francis the church is indifferent and judgmental. Pope Francis views Youth as the future of society and the church . He said: “It is up to you not to keep quiet. Even if others keep quiet, if we older people and leaders, some corrupt, keep quiet, if the whole world keeps quiet and loses its joy, I ask you: Will you cry out?” “Yes,” the young people in the crowd shouted. “Yes!”

I think this is directed to the entire, Catholic , universal church.

Challenges in Switzerland: The status of Catholicism in Switzerland is mildly put, in this our 21 st century, still complicated because of anti-clerical cantonal governments in the 19th century, that organized along democratic lines church taxes and many rules and regulations.

The challenge remains the same that it always was : Spread the good news , make the case for the Catholic Church. Unfortunately when I read so many reports especially online , even from Catholic publications, it seems they do not spread the good news of Christ , but seek the bad news about the Church in order to earn clicks and readers. I get sometimes the impression there are journalists , including Catholics, out there only to find fault with the Pope , with the church. This cause division and often scandal. No surprise then that especially young people turn their back on the church.

By the way that was one of the reasons I started our project t the U.N. , namely to try to find the positive things , to help to provide a better image of the church, to inform and to educate people about the good work of Catholic organizations.  

     
Gordon:   You have a strong interest in interfaith dialogue and communications. How did this develop and what are in your opinion our shared responsibilities in interfaith outreach?
     
Christian:




 
 

How can you understand peoples religious based behavior if you do know nothing about it? I refer here to peaceful religious people, not extremists, terrorists who misinterpret , misuse and abuse religion for their criminal objectives. 

I developed this interest during my 4 years at the United Nations Geneva. I filmed numerous reports about interfaith related conferences and panels. Also since 3 or so years the United Nations in Geneva began intensively to acknowledge the importance of faith based organizations. These days there are a lot of panels and events at the U.N. that are dedicated to this subject. The Role of Interfaith Dialogue is i.e. to promote and sustain social Cohesion, Women promotion, and peacebuilding. As far as Catholics we should not proselytize (try o convert) but in my opinion, we must express, must live our Catholic faith everywhere without fear.

     
Gordon:   What media resources do you find most helpful in your work  and explain why?
     
Christian:  

With 'Fake News' and for the most part political agendas, particularly today's social media is for the most part a dark jungle not trustworthy. In my research I try to get the information 'from the horses mouth' i.e. Vatican News, Holy See contacts  and also through conversations (via skype or phone) with the concerned parties.

     
Gordon:














 
  In closing, I wanted to share with our readers your  interview with Sheikh Imran Hosein