Hope and trust in Church communications

As a Church communicator, I’m always interested in the annual papal message for World Day of Communications. Released on Jan. 24, the feast of that great communicator and patron of the Catholic press St. Francis de Sales, this year’s message focused on “Communicating Hope and Trust in our Time.”

Here are some highlights from Pope Francis that are particularly meaningful, not just to professional communicators but to each of us who communicate via email, phone, text and social media at record pace every day:

— “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.”

— “I would like ... to contribute to the search for an open and creative style of communication that never seeks to glamorize 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.’”

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— “To introduce his disciples and the crowds to this Gospel mindset and to give them the right ‘lens’ needed to see and embrace the love that dies and rises, Jesus uses parables. He frequently compares the Kingdom of God to a seed that releases its potential for life precisely when it falls to the earth and dies (cf. Mk 4:1-34). This use of images and metaphors to convey the quiet power of the Kingdom does not detract from its importance and urgency; rather, it is a merciful way of making space for the listener to freely accept and appropriate that power.”

— “Confidence in the seed of God’s Kingdom and in the mystery of Easter should also shape the way we communicate. This confidence enables us to carry out our work — in all the different ways that communication takes place nowadays — with the conviction that it is possible to recognize and highlight the good news present in every story and in the face of each person.”

— “Hope is the thread with which this sacred history is woven, and its weaver is none other than the Holy Spirit, the Comforter. Hope is the humblest of virtues, for it remains hidden in the recesses of life; yet it is like the yeast that leavens all the dough.”

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