In his message for the 57th World Day of Social Communications, Pope Francis wrote that people involved in social communications should communicate honestly and sincerely.
The pontiff said that sending the message to the audience cordially would encourage them to value "our participation in the joys, fears, hopes, and suffering of women and men in our time."
He continued, "Those who speak this way love the other because they care and protect their freedom without violating it. We can see this style in the mysterious wayfarer who dialogues with the disciples headed to Emmaus after the tragedy at Golgotha."
Pope Francis also wanted to remind that the risen Christ had spoken to people "with the heart" and had joined the challenges in life with respect, "proposing himself and not imposing himself."
He noted that people involved in social communications should also have the passion to "lovingly" open the minds of others for facilitating understanding with depth and breadth of the underlying reasons surrounding things.
"In a historical period marked by polarizations and contrasts — to which unfortunately not even the ecclesial community is immune — the commitment to communicating “with open heart and arms” does not pertain exclusively to those in the field of communications; it is everyone’s responsibility," the pope said.
Everyone was invited "to seek and to speak the truth and to do so with charity," he pointed out. Christians should refrain from speaking evil since the tongue could bless the Lord and curse people.
"Sometimes friendly conversations can open a breach even in the most hardened of hearts," the pope said. "We also have evidence of this in literature. I think of that memorable page in Chapter XXI of The Betrothed in which Lucia speaks with the heart to the Innominato [the Unnamed] until he, disarmed and afflicted by a healthy inner crisis, gives in to the gentle strength of love."
In society, kindness is not only a question of etiquette," he said, "but it's also a true countermeasure to evil things that corrupt hearts and push relationships into trouble.
"We need it in the field of media so that communication does not foment acrimony that exasperates, creates rage, and leads to clashes," the pope said, "but helps people peacefully reflect and interpret with a critical yet always respectful spirit, the reality in which they live."
Pope Francis said that Saint Francis de Sales, a Doctor of the Church, set a great example of speaking from the heart.
"In addition to this important anniversary, I would like to mention another anniversary that takes place in 2023: the centenary of his [Saint Francis de Sales] proclamation as patron of Catholic journalists by Pius XI with the Encyclical, Rerum Omnium Perturbationem," the pontiff said. "A brilliant intellectual, fruitful writer and profound theologian, Francis de Sales was Bishop of Geneva at the beginning of the XVII century during difficult years marked by heated disputes with Calvinists."
According to the pope, Saint Francis de Sales had a meek attitude, humanity, and willingness to patiently dialogue with everyone, especially those who disagreed with him.
Pope Francis said that Saint Francis the Sales was a pleasant voice that won many friends. One of his most famous statements was "heart speaks to heart," which inspired generations of faithful, among them Saint John Henry Newman.
"One of his [Saint Francis de Sales] convictions was, “To speak well, it is enough to love well," Pope Francis said. "It shows that for him, communication should never be reduced to something artificial, to a marketing strategy, as we might say nowadays, but is rather a reflection of the soul, the visible surface of a nucleus of love that is invisible to the eye."
Saint Francis de Sales is the patron saint of writers and journalists. He was the bishop of Geneva.
"May people who work in communications feel inspired by this saint of tenderness, seeking and telling the truth with courage and freedom, and rejecting the temptation to use sensational and combative expressions," the pontiff said.
Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz, a former associate editor at CBCP News, stated that people should speak with respect regardless of the person’s status.
“I think it’s a good reminder that we should always really see everyone, whatever their state in life, as made in the image and likeness of God,” she said. “Whatever is our estimation of certain persons, we should always speak to them with respect, a dignity that they don’t necessarily deserve, but they deserve because they’re made in the image and likeness of God.”
She has also encouraged people not to shy away from difficult conversations.
“I think to speak heart-to-heart also means that we shouldn’t avoid difficult conversations; this would include conversations around things that offend our Lord, especially people under our authority or whom we know we exert a certain level of influence,” she said. “We shouldn’t shy away from having those difficult conversations. Those are truly heart-to-heart talks.”
Vanessa Puno, a writer, has viewed the pope's message for the 57th World Day of Social Communications as love.
“This message of Pope Francis is love,” she said.
This annual observance was established in 1967 during the papacy of Paul VI, inviting people to weigh on the opportunities and challenges that modern communication tools, like the press, radio, TV, motion pictures, and the Internet, offered to the Church to carry on its mission.
This yearly celebration sprung from the Second Vatican Council, which had seen the need to engage with the modern world, including harnessing the advances in communication tools.
"Saint Francis de Sales disseminated many copies of his writings among the Geneva community," the pope said. "This “journalistic” intuition earned him a reputation that quickly went beyond the confines of his diocese and still endures to this day.
Saint Paul VI observed his writings provide for a “highly enjoyable, instructive and moving” reading. If we look at the communications field today, are these not precisely the characteristics that an article, a report, a television or radio program, or a social media post should include?" - Oliver Samson
Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.” Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.