By Marian Curd BRITAIN'S Catholic Centre for Radio, Television and Cinema is to become one of the first of its kind in the world to put into effect the directives laid down by the Vatican Council's Decree on Communications and promulgated by Pope Paul barely a month ago.
In a mammoth scheme to be launched simultaneously in every church in the land on Sunday, January 5, every Catholic man, woman and child in
will be given the opportunity of joining one of the most farreaching apostolates the world has ever known.
THE PLAN, which has the enthusiastic backing of every member of the Hierarchy, is to raise £300,000 over the next four months for a Development Project which will include: (a) The building and equipping of a radio, television and film studio and additional .living and office quarters at the Centre's Hatch End HQ.
(b) The training and providing of additional courses for more broadcasters, scriptwriters, ideas men, producers and directors urgently needed with the advent next April 20 of BBC 2, and the probable ITV 2.
With the aid of (a) and (b) programmes now being prepared by the Centre at the rate of over 1,000 a year will he vastly increased. The studio will also be used to make the Centre's own radio and television programmes on film and tape which can then be submitted to the broadcasting and television companies.
"These companies", Fr, Agnellus Andrew, 0,F.M., Director of the Centre, told me. "have shown that they are willing to broadcast programmes from other souttes so long as they have suf ticient quality and interest. W, intend that both quality and in (crest will be first-rate."
(e) The third and most important consideration lying behind the decision to launch the Development Plan concerns the urgent necessity for the Centre, in conjunction with other and international Catholic Television Radio arid Film organisations to supply programmes on tape and on film for the less developed countries.
Russia, Peking and the Moslem states are mushrooming radio stations and pouring propaganda into Africa and Asia. Millions of pounds are being spent by religious and educational organisations on radio stations and transmitters to be used as tools in the battle for the minds of men.
Holland's Catholic Radio Station, RK0 Hilversum, backed by Dutch Catholics, is planning to open a Catholic Radio station in Liberia; UNDA the International Catholic Association for TV and Radio backed by German Catholics have bought a hotel in Ruanda Urundi as a kind of "Savoy Hill" or jumping off ground for an African radio network.
DEMAND As newly independent countries emerge in Africa so a new pattern is forming showing those nations which will encourage or at least tolerate the Church, and those whose obvious aim is the destruction or, at best. the impeding of missionary work. Already Bishops from many parts of the world are appealing to Britain's Centre for programme material, films, tapes. St. Gabriel's Centre at Hatch End can make these if it has the facilities and the money.
During the p4 year priests from Malta, Tanganyika, Nigeria. and Vatican Radio have come over here to be trained. often with the cooperation of the BBC. as broadcasters and directors. Further priests from Vatican Radio and from Japan are expected in 1964.
There is no end to the demand for programme material from short explanations of sacraments. liturgical seasons. and so on right up to full-scale features on Holy Week, and Christmas.
"We would like.' said Fr. Agnellus, to get different kinds of Masses on tape, programmes on the sacraments, on the new Liturgy, on all tha, newest movements in the Church, on the liturgical seasons of the year. "The scope is endless, with this work and the programmes we would submit to BBC and ITA our proposed studio at Hatch End would be working to capacity with training and production for at least 10 months of the year.
"The people of our age are the first in history to have instant access to millions of people", Fr. Agnellus pointed out. The Council's Decree states implicitly that the apostolate "must not be thwarted or impeded by technical delays or expenses, however vast, which are encountered by the very nature of these media".
Such importance is assigned to this work that the Council has even decreed that "each year in every diocese of the world, by the determination of the Bishops, there should be celebrated a day on which the faithful are instructed in their responsibilities in this regard. They should be invited to pray and contribute funds for this cause . .."
In order to stimulate Catholics everywhere to take a greater interest in what is happening in TV and Radio the Centre plans to extend vastly its Look-Listen movement and to encourage the wider distribution of its monthly magazine "Annunciation", and by more discussion courses.
The Development Plan is ambitious. The organisers are hoping that business and industry will contribute towards the Studio and the living and office accommodation which will be atttached.
They are planning careful coverage of parishes by local committees who will encourage single donations (large and small); annual donations (say, for seven years), and, best of all because of all the income tax thereby regained, by covenanted donations. The Hierarchy have led the way with an initial £5,000 donation.
The organisation may be complex, but the aims couldn't be more clear and vital. A millionaire could solve every money problem overnight and barely notice it.
"What use would the early Apostles have made of our opportunities?" asks Archbishop Heenan in a message commending the Appeal. "That is a question we cannot answer" he says. but surely its a fair comment that St. Paul would have gone "all-out" on Press, Radio and TV. The last word comes from Fr. Agnellus: "We'll be answerable one day for the use we have made of modern communications".
Donations big and small should be sent to Fr. Agnellus Andrew, 0.F.M.. Georgian House, 139 Sloane Street, London, S.W.1.