Categories: General Date: May 8, 2018 Title: World Communications Day
Each year, on the Sunday before Pentecost, the Church celebrates World Communications Day. This year’s theme is “The truth will set you free (Jn8:32). Fake news and journalism for peace". 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,
Communication is part of God’s plan for us and an essential way to experience fellowship. Made in the image and likeness of our Creator, we are able to express and share all that is true, good, and beautiful. We are able to describe our own experiences and the world around us, and thus to create historical memory and the understanding of events. But when we yield to our own pride and selfishness, we can also distort the way we use our ability to communicate. This can be seen from the earliest times, in the biblical stories of Cain and Abel and the Tower of Babel (cf. Gen 4:4-16; 11:1-9). The capacity to twist the truth is symptomatic of our condition, both as individuals and communities. On the other hand, when we are faithful to God’s plan, communication becomes an effective expression of our responsible search for truth and our pursuit of goodness.
In today’s fast-changing world of communications and digital systems, we are witnessing the spread of what has come to be known as “fake news”. This calls for reflection, which is why I have decided to return in this World Communications Day Message to the issue of truth, which was raised time and time again by my predecessors, beginning with Pope Paul VI, whose 1972 Message took as its theme: “Social Communications at the Service of Truth”. In this way, I would like to contribute to our shared commitment to stemming the spread of fake news and to rediscovering the dignity of journalism and the personal responsibility of journalists to communicate the truth.
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.