Speaking with the heart “The truth in love” – This is the central theme of the message for the 57th World Day of Social Communications, which this year will be celebrated on Sunday 21 May. The Pope points to Francis de Sales, patron saint of journalists, as “one of the most luminous and still fascinating examples of ‘speaking with the heart’.
“It is from this “criterion of love” that, through his writings and witness of life, the saintly Bishop of Geneva reminds us that “we are what we communicate”. The Pope notes that “This goes against the grain today, at a time when — as we experience especially on social media — communication is often exploited so that the world may see us as we would like to be and not as we are”.
The theme is ideally linked to last year’s theme, which called for listening. The Holy Father focuses in particular on “speaking from the heart” as the focus of welcome, dialogue and sharing.
“We must not be afraid to proclaim the truth, even if it is sometimes uncomfortable”, but to do so with charity. The Pope’s invitation urges us to have “A heart that reveals the truth of our being with its beat and that, for this reason, should be listened to. This leads those who listen to attune themselves to the same wave length, to the point of being able to hear within their heart also the heartbeat of the other. Then the miracle of encounter can take place, which makes us look at one another with compassion, welcoming our mutual frailties with respect rather than judging by hearsay and sowing discord and division”.
The Holy Father wishes: “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”.
In the dramatic context of the global conflict we are experiencing, “it is urgent to maintain a form of communication that is not hostile” The Pope urges “for communicators who are open to dialogue, engaged in promoting integral disarmament and committed to undoing the belligerent psychosis that nests in our hearts”, who are not “sheltered or closed communicators but bold and creative ones who are ready to take risks to find common ground on which to meet”.
As was the case sixty years ago, he continues “we are now also living in a dark hour in which humanity fears an escalation of war that must be stopped as soon as possible, also at the level of communication. It is terrifying to hear how easily words calling for the destruction of people and territories are spoken. Words, unfortunately, that often turn into warlike actions of heinous violence. This is why all belligerent rhetoric must be rejected, as well as every form of propaganda that manipulates the truth, disfiguring it for ideological ends. Instead, what must be promoted is a form of communication that helps create the conditions to resolve controversies between peoples”.
As Christians, the pope reiterates, “in order to communicate truth with charity, it is necessary to purify one’s heart. Only by listening and speaking with a pure heart can we see beyond appearances and overcome the vague din which, also in the field of information, does not help us discern in the complicated world in which we live. The call to speak with the heart radically challenges the times in which we are living, which are so inclined towards indifference and indignation, at times even on the basis of disinformation which falsifies and exploits the truth”
And he warns, “As Christians we know that the destiny of peace is decided by conversion of hearts, since the virus of war comes from within the human heart.”
This is an extremely topical passage in the Message. The Pope addresses people in communication field in particular, but he reminds us that “in a historical period marked by polarizations and contrasts 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. We are all called to seek and to speak the truth and to do so with charity”.
He urges “to keep our tongue from evil”, and he underlines how “sometimes friendly conversations can open a breach even in the most hardened of hearts”, saying that “we experience this in society, where kindness is not only a question of “etiquette” but a genuine antidote to cruelty, which unfortunately can poison hearts and make relationships toxic. We need it in the field of media, so that communication does not foment acrimony that exasperates, creates rage and leads to clashes, but helps people peacefully reflect and interpret with a critical yet always respectful spirit, the reality in which they live”
The message concludes by emphasizing that the effort to “find the right words” to build “a better civilization” is a responsibility entrusted to those working in the field of communications and for them he invokes the Lord so that they may carry out their profession as a mission marked by “truth in charity”, they may help us rediscover ourselves as brothers and sisters and “feel that we are each other’s guardians”.