Categories: General Date: May 26, 2017 Title: World Communications Day
Each year, on the Sunday before Pentecost, the Church celebrates World Communications Day. This year’s theme is “Fear not, for I am with you” (Is 43:5): Communicating Hope and Trust in Our Time. The Holy Father’s message for World Communications Day is traditionally published in conjunction with the Feast of St. Francis de Sales, the patron saint of writers and journalists, observed annually on January 24th.
World Communications Day was established by Pope Paul VI after the Second Vatican Council in order to draw attention to “the vast and complex phenomenon of the modern means of social communication.” One of the documents produced by the Second Vatican Council, Inter Mirifica (Decree on the Media of Social Communication), was devoted entirely to communications media and it initiated the only worldwide annual celebration commissioned by the Council – World Communications Day – which was first celebrated in 1967 and continues to be observed annually.
On World Communications Day, all Catholics are encouraged to reflect upon the various media of social communications and how these influence our lives. It is important to remember that communications media are gifts given to us by God but that, like all gifts, they must be used wisely. Messages presented by the media may be helpful or they may be harmful. As Pope Francis stated in his message for this year’s World Communications Day,
Access to the media – thanks to technological progress – makes it possible for countless people to share news instantly and spread it widely. That news may be good or bad, true or false. The early Christians compared the human mind to a constantly grinding millstone; it is up to the miller to determine what it will grind: good wheat or worthless weeds. Our minds are always “grinding”, but it is up to us to choose what to feed them (cf. SAINT JOHN CASSIAN, Epistle to Leontius).
I wish to address this message to all those who, whether in their professional work or personal relationships, are like that mill, daily “grinding out” information with the aim of providing rich fare for those with whom they communicate. I would like to encourage everyone to engage in constructive forms of communication that reject prejudice towards others and foster a culture of encounter, helping all of us to view the world around us with realism and trust.
I am convinced that we have to break the vicious circle of anxiety and stem the spiral of fear resulting from a constant focus on “bad news” (wars, terrorism, scandals and all sorts of human failure). This has nothing to do with spreading misinformation that would ignore the tragedy of human suffering, nor is it about a naive optimism blind to the scandal of evil. Rather, I propose that all of us work at overcoming that feeling of growing discontent and resignation that can at times generate apathy, fear or the idea that evil has no limits. Moreover, in a communications industry which thinks that good news does not sell, and where the tragedy of human suffering and the mystery of evil easily turn into entertainment, there is always the temptation that our consciences can be dulled or slip into pessimism.
I would like, then, to contribute to the search for an open and creative style of communication that never seeks to glamourize evil but instead to concentrate on solutions and to inspire a positive and responsible approach on the part of its recipients. I ask everyone to offer the people of our time storylines that are at heart “good news”.
Today, the Catholic Church continues to use all forms of communications technology in order to carry on the mission entrusted to the Apostles by Jesus: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Mt 20:19-10)
Click here to see what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches about The Use of the Social Communications Media.