VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The media and the communication field must be more benevolent and share the truth with charity, Pope Francis has said.
“Kindness is not just a matter of etiquette but a real antidote to cruelty, which can unfortunately poison hearts and make relationships toxic,” the pope wrote in his message for World Communications Day.
Just as benevolence is needed in social relations, “we need it in the media, so that communication does not create an acrimony that infuriates, provokes rage and leads to clashes, but helps people to reflect and to be interpreted calmly with a critical spirit but always respectful. , the reality in which they live,” he added.
“We are all called to seek and speak the truth and to do so with charity,” he said in the message released at the Vatican on Jan. 24, the feast of Saint Francis de Sales, the patron saint of journalists.
The theme for the 2023 celebration – marked in most dioceses on the Sunday before Pentecost, this year May 21 – is “Speaking from the heart. “Truth in Love.”
“We must not be afraid to proclaim the truth, even if it is sometimes uncomfortable,” the pope said, but communicators must be afraid “to do so without charity, without heart.”
Communication should be done “in a cordial way”, he said, a way that is rooted in love for the other and in caring for and protecting the freedom of the other.
The world today is marked by polarization and division, and even the church is not immune, he said.
“We Christians in particular are continually admonished to guard our tongue from evil,” he said, choosing instead words that are uplifting, fit the occasion, and “can give grace to those who hear.” .
“In the church too, there is a great need to listen to each other and get along,” he said. When people listen attentively and openly without prejudice, it “brings forth God-style speech, nurtured with closeness, compassion and tenderness.”
There is a “pressing need in the church for a communication which rekindles hearts, which is a balm on the wounds and which illuminates the path of our brothers and sisters” and which allows itself to be guided by the Holy Spirit, he said.
The church, he writes, needs communication that: is both gentle and prophetic; find new ways to share the gospel today; puts at the center the relationship of the faithful with God, with others, especially the most needy; kindle “the fire of faith rather than keeping the ashes of a self-referential identity”; is based on “humility in listening and “parresia” (boldness) in speaking”; and never separates truth from charity.
And, the Pope said, the whole world needs people who speak with this heart and promote “a language” or a culture of peace, especially where there is war, as well as to make room for “dialogue and to reconciliation where hatred and enmity rage”. .”
“True peace can only be built in mutual trust”, which needs “bold and creative” communicators who are willing to “take risks to find common ground on which to meet” and “contribute to creating the conditions for resolving controversies between peoples,” the pope said in his message.
Because words can often turn into “warlike actions of heinous violence”, he said, “all belligerent rhetoric must be rejected, as well as all forms of propaganda that manipulate the truth, disfiguring it for ideological purposes”. .
Saint Francis de Sales reminds us again that “we are what we communicate”, he said.
Saint Paul VI said the saint’s writings are “very enjoyable, instructive and moving”, which is precisely what every article, report, television or radio broadcast and social media post should include, the pope said Francois.
“May people who work in communications feel inspired by this saint of tenderness, seeking and speaking the truth with courage and freedom and rejecting the temptation to use sensational and combative expressions,” he said.
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