The World Communications Day that the Church will celebrate on May 8 involves “significant and relevant” figures. It is the fiftieth in chronological order: an anniversary that refers to the Second Vatican Council. In fact, the Day is the only one to have been established by the Council, which marked fifty years since its conclusion past December. It is the first day celebrated since the establishment of the Secretariat for Communication. It takes place in the year of the Jubilee of Mercy, which refers directly to the message of Pope Francis, who developed the theme of “Communication and Mercy: a fruitful meeting.” “Those listed are not mere coincidences; they are the pillars signalling the journey followed by the Church for the past fifty years. The Secretariat for Communications is, perhaps, the point of arrival and departure of this pathway”, said Monsignor Dario Edoardo Viganò, prefect of the new Vatican body.
Monsignor Viganò, the Pope’s message for the World Day was released today. What are the key words of the document?
Encounter, listening, closeness and mercy:
These are words that recall and are rooted in the Gospel. Saint Augustine reminds us that “our soul needs solitude. In solitude, if the soul is attentive, God lets himself be seen. The crowd is noisy: to see God requires silence.” Encountering God, accepting His mercy as a balm for life, prompts words and gestures of consolation and welcome. Pope Francis always returns to the fountainhead. Therefore, in an effective way, in this year’s message Francis reminds us that mercy is “the distinctive trait of all that the Church is and does.”
Thus mercy understood as the privileged path of communication…
The Church bears the memory of Jesus and, therefore, she declines the words of His proclamation in their specific relation to mercy. These words are greatly anticipated by all those who consider themselves distant from the mercy of God, of whom they often have a distorted image as a ruthless judge, unable to become involved with the limits of suffering. But these words are also urgent for the Church herself, that is regenerated by them; however,
The Church is mindful of her underlying sign of mercy, without which she wouldn’t exist.
In his message Pope Francis states: “Our political and diplomatic language would do well to be inspired by mercy.” This is perhaps one of the sore spots of contemporary communication…
“Communication – wrote Mounier – is less frequent than happiness, more fragile than beauty: it takes nothing to stop it or break it in two. “We see the reflection of this fragility in those same places that are supposed to cherish it and protect it.” In fact
when words are meant for the common good, highlighting the effort of listening – a preliminary condition of all forms of national and international negotiation – failing to ensure their protection and care could deliver negative results.
Ultimately, it’s an appeal to all those whose words have an impact in the public domain.
To a certain extent it also involves the “pastors” to whom the Pope asks to “overcome”, in their way of communicating , “the mindset that neatly separates sinners from the righteous.”
Certainly! It’s the heart of the Magisterium of Pope Francis. He spoke about it several times and on many occasions. I would like to recall his words on May 13 2015, when he announced the extraordinary jubilee: “No one can be excluded from the mercy of God; everyone knows the way to access it and the Church is the house where everyone is welcomed and no one is rejected. Her doors remain wide open, so that those who are touched by grace may find the assurance of forgiveness. The greater the sin, the greater the love that must be shown by the Church to those who repent.”
If the doors of the Church must be opened wide, how could his communication convey closure? It would be a serious contradiction!
Thus the invitation is to “convert” communication itself. However, is a “merciful” communication possible at a time of deep media transformations?
“Ours – said philosopher Ferdinand Ebner – is a time when the art of speech is heartless and without love. “Speaking words are increasingly rarer, while ever more frequent are the words spoken.” For this
it is necessary and urgent to recover a vocabulary – let’s call it ‘Merciful’ – that may enter into the hearts and minds, ultimately into the human person.
To do this, the first step – as the Pope writes in his message – is to know how to listen. In fact, communication entails listening, which underlies authentic relationships. Moreover, listening is part and parcel of authentic, light, free language that is not burdened by words that only communicate one’s “ego.”
We are experiencing the Jubilee of Mercy, which Holy Door will have to be passed through in the realm communication?
The Holy Door of silence and of listening!
For media operators crossing this threshold means pleading forgiveness for having become an “appendix of noise.” It also means asking for the gift of silence and of knowing how to listen, “a kind of martyrdom” –as the Pope says-, which means being able “to share questions and doubts, to journey side by side, to banish all claims to absolute power and to put our abilities and gifts at the service of the common good.”