Rome, November 27, 2007. While crossing a street in Rome
earlier this fall, Father Michael Sliney, LC had a providential
encounter. As the traffic whizzed by on either side, a
cameraman asked him, “Excuse me, do you know where exactly
Pope John Paul II died?” Sliney pointed out the Pope’s
apartment window, not suspecting that this chance encounter would be
the beginning of a big media project.
It turned out that
the cameraman was making a television documentary on John Paul
II, entitled “A Saint for Our Times,” for Dreamtime Productions.
The documentary was not intended to be an exhaustive biographical
treatise; it would simply present the person of John Paul
II through the eyes of a wide range of people
who were impacted by his life, from Catholic priests to
Orthodox Jewish rabbis to major news commentators to the average
man on the street. The cameraman needed some priests to
provide the Catholic perspective on John Paul II and on
what his life and legacy meant for the Church, and
Father Sliney was happy to oblige.
|Father Michael Sliney, LC|
After helping with some interview
footage, Father Sliney invited the cameraman and the producer to
come for lunch at the Legion’s seminary in Rome. He
drew up a list of possible contacts for the producers,
including Archbishop John Foley, President of the Pontifical Council for
Social Communications, and brought Father David Daly, LC on board
as another priest for the team to interview.
on, he and Father David Daly, LC became key players
on the new documentary, which will be released on PBS
this December. To watch the Dreamtime trailer, click here.
the documentary itself will reveal, Father Daly and Father Sliney
had much to share, having had numerous opportunities to meet
the pope, serve his Masses, and interact with some of
|Father David Daly, LC|
his closest collaborators in the Vatican.
Yet as the two
priests shared their experiences with the Pope and their perspective
on who he was and what he stood for, they
noticed something else taking place: through the interviews, the Dreamtime
documentarians were gaining a much deeper understanding and appreciation of
the Catholic faith. In fact, some of them were learning
the basics for the first time. “It was very providential
for them in their walk of faith,” said Father Daly.
Surely the pope was blessing them from behind the scenes!
the Mass Media
The mass media is a powerful educator of
the people, and most people assume that the people behind
and in front of the camera know what they are
talking about. In matters of faith and religion, this is
not always (read: often not) the case.
The mass media is
called the “fourth power” for a reason: in some cases,
its influence is far more powerful than that of the
legislative, executive, or judiciary branches of the government. Since the
mass media is such a powerful opinion-shaper, it is of
utmost importance for Gospel values to penetrate its virtual corridors.
This is not only a task for the Legionaries; it
is above all a task for qualified Catholic lay apostles.
Legionaries will continue to give articulate, intelligent, and authentic witness
on camera, but they have an equally important role to
play behind the scenes. “Our role as priests is to
influence people who are influencing others,” Father Sliney said. How?
By locating Catholic leaders who are in the media and
by teaching them to know and love Christ, upholding standards
of decency and truth in their work.
Father Daly agreed that
Regnum Christi lay people will soon play an important role
in the mass media, and that they should not be
afraid to think big. “It’s important for us to challenge
people to think on a grand scale. Some people might
think, ‘I’ve never been on TV and I never will.’
We have to break that mentality and think outside the
box for evangelization.”
John Paul II himself was an outstanding example
of “thinking outside the box” for evangelization—especially in his revolutionary
way of dealing with the mass media. If this giant
of a “saint for our times” was able to educate
the hearts and minds behind the mass media, then Regnum
Christi members should aspire to do nothing less. The new
areopagus of evangelization is waiting on thousands of channels worldwide.