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57th World Day of Social Communications

Pope_Francis_Korea_Haemi_Castle_19_(cropped) (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

This Sunday, May 21, 2023, the Universal Church marks the 57th World Day of Social Communications. With an inspiring message, Pope Francis inspires everyone.

For the 2023 World Day of Social Communications, the phrase "Speak with the heart: Veritatem facientes in caritate" (Do the truth in charity) is used as the theme.

The theme, "Listen with the ear of the heart," which ties with that of 2022, is meant to guide the entire Church as it journeys toward the celebration of the Synod in October 2023.

Giving "a reason for your hope" and doing it gently means "using the gift of communication as a bridge and not as a wall." This is what it means to speak from the heart.

Speaking the truth in a compassionate manner: Everyone is further encouraged by the subject to not be afraid to speak the sometimes-uncomfortable truth that has its roots in the Gospel.

However, this declaration must not be divorced from "a style of mercy, of sincere participation in the joys and sufferings of people of our time," as demonstrated in the Bible's interaction between the enigmatic wayfarer and the Emmaus disciples.

Communication that is not unfriendly: The subject emphasizes the value of friendly dialogue. As Saint John XXIII foretold 60 years ago in “Pacem in Terris’’ (peace in the world), it encourages "a communication open to discourse with the other, that fosters "integral disarmament," and works to destroy the "psychosis of war" that lurks in the world. 

In this sense, everyone—including those in the communications industry—is encouraged to use their employment "as a mission for building a more just, more fraternal, and more human future."

RVA News asked a few people for their takeaways from Pope Francis’ World Communication Day 2023 message.

Fr Suresh Mathew: Editor, Indian Currents Weekly, India 

Pope Francis’s World Communication Day (May 21, 2023) message for this year– “Speak with the heart–is a clarion call to journalists to return to ‘real journalism’ ie, speaking the truth.

Its significance is more than evident at a time when media organizations are willing to act like a piper who plays the tune for the one who pays.

The communicating Church cannot shirk its responsibility of speaking out against injustices, whether done to it or any other community/institution. 

It is not enough to cry foul when one’s own interests are harmed. 

Communication must be contextual. It cannot be divorced from the realities that bear on the common man. 

Exposures and criticisms ultimately help those who are at the receiving end, though it may have initial pinpricks. 

For example, it was The Boston Globe’s series of articles on the sexual abuse of a priest that took the lid off the rot spreading in Boston Archdiocese. It had a great impact on the Church which was forced to come out of its slumber and take corrective steps.

The National Catholic Reporter also ran a series of articles on abuse in the 1990s and the Church in the United States was forced to confront the abuse crisis.

Embedded journalism to suppress the truth is unacceptable. The Church's image gets stained when it tries to hush up scams and scandals. 

It should not expect journalists to toe its line. The relevance of Christian journalists lies in saying ‘yes’ to responsible journalism.

Sr Jennibeth Sabay: A member of Sisters of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception of Castres, Philippines

The theme is a great reminder to "speak with the heart." The words we speak may either break or make relationships. No real communication happens when words do not come from a genuine heart.

Pope Francis reminds us, "The heart moves us towards an open and welcoming way of communicating.” In listening to our hearts and speaking from them with charity, miracles of encounter happen.

How can we promote communication that resolves controversies between people? Let the Spirit purify our hearts so that whatever we speak may be for God’s glory. 

Fr Anthony Le Duc SVD: Executive Director of the Asian Research Center for Religion and Social Communication, St. John’s University, Thailand

In this year's World Day of Social Communications message, Pope Francis illuminates the profound significance of the heart in communication, urging us to redirect our focus. Throughout history and across diverse cultures, the heart has consistently served as the wellspring of emotions and the catalyst for profound human connections.

Even in the Old Testament, though the concept of conscience as we perceive it today was not fully formed, the heart was already regarded as the gauge of goodness, faithfulness, and moral discernment.

Drawing inspiration from the Thai language, where the word "heart" (jay) intertwines with numerous other terms to denote a range of human qualities, we glimpse the depth of its symbolic power. "Deejay" signifies happiness, "jaydee" embodies a good-hearted nature, "jayrai" evokes cruelty, "jaydam" represents a dark or malevolent disposition, "tokjay" expresses surprise, "longjay" signifies relief, "ronjay" reflects impatience, and "odjay" denotes patience, among others. By emphasizing the heart as a foundational principle for ethical and authentic communication, Pope Francis speaks to a concept that transcends cultural barriers, fostering meaningful connections on interpersonal and intercultural levels.

In our digital era, where information inundates while heartfelt communication is often lacking, Pope Francis' message resonates with both timeliness and timelessness. It challenges us to prioritize genuine peacebuilding and bridgebuilding communication, urging us to infuse our interactions with the essence of the heart. By embracing this call, we can navigate the sea of information with intention, fostering a more compassionate and harmonious digital landscape.

Sr. Robancy A Helen, MMM: Research scholar and freelance journalist, India

Good communication requires listening to others with patience. We live in a hurry. We have less or no time for others because we are too busy attending to ourselves. But our call to good communication is to open our hearts to those who suffer physically, mentally, and psychologically.

In this way, the Pope's invitation is fulfilled when we speak of suffering with clarity and the truth, as Jesus did. We need to speak the truth about love, openness, and fraternity. This world needs peace, due attention, and a shoulder to cry on. Can we be like Jesus, whose communication helped others transform their lives? Jesus wants our time, and privacy when listening to the needs of others. Let our communication be that of Jesus, whose dedication reached out to many to speak the truth. 

Fr Francis Arackal, OP: Media Scholar and Professor of Journalism and Communication, India

 Pope Francis, for the 57th World Communications Day, has sent out a very practical and relevant message for our times. His message guides us as to how to communicate in our "complex" world: He emphasizes "speaking with the heart"; "communicating heart to heart: “In order to speak well, it is enough to love well’; "communicating cordially": "communicating in a cordial manner means that those who read or listen to us are led to welcome our participation in the joys, fears, hopes, and suffering of the women and men of our time." Francis connects such communication with the ongoing synodal process. Above all, he says, communicating should promote peace. 

Sr Marjorie J. Guingona, SAC: Social Communications Ministry, Diocese of Pagadian, Philippines

Pope Francis’ message is a timely reflection for us living in a highly technological global world to "communicate the truth with love" so that a real and meaningful encounter can happen. It’s a breath of fresh air that hopes to shake us out of our apathy by calling us to a radical and compassionate way of being and relating with others. In so doing, we become active agents of peace and harmony in a world that has become more complicated and divided.

It calls everyone, especially those in the field of communications, to a conversion of heart so we can responsibly assume our mission of building a better civilization using the power of the word with the language of love. 

Sarah O. Lumanlan, faculty member, National University Fairview, Philippines

Having served as a communication instructor for students of the new generation, I felt entirely responsible for representing good words for them. Pope Francis' message on World Communication Day made me realize that teaching this course should not just emphasize critical writing, reading, speaking, and listening; for communication to be effective, it must also possess communicating from the heart. Listening to others patiently and speaking graciously are aptitudes we should teach them. We must employ kind words when leading young people to spread kindness and humility. With inputs from Santosh Digal


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