Thursday, January 23, 2014

Pope Francis on World Communications Day: Slow Down, Engage and Help

The Vatican released Pope Francis' first message for the World Communications Day. In line with the main themes of his pontificate, the focus is on using modern methods of communication to build "authentic encounters.”

With the Internet and social networks dominating the way people reach out to others, the message calls on people to go beyond just connecting with each other.

Pontifical Council for Social Communications
"There is an avalanche of communications: messages, sounds, everything. And it's sometimes hard for humankind to decide which of these messages can best serve them in their search for the truth.”

The message conveys two central concepts. The first is proximity, or being neighborly, with one another. In his message, Pope Francis uses the parable of the Good Samaritan to explain how it applies to the way we communicate today.

He said that, just like the Good Samaritan took responsibility for the wounded person, it is not enough for people to connected, but that "connections need to grow into true encounters.”

Pontifical Council for Social Communications
"The Pope says our sole presence is not just to walk along the digital highways in today's world. But to take on this responsibility of becoming close to each other, of sharing. At this point, the Pope tells us communication turns into neighborliness.”

The second concept revolves around the missionary role of the Church. In his message, the Pope calls on people to be a Christian witness in the way they live their lives.

That doesn't mean bombarding people with religious messages, the Pope added. But to engage in dialogue with others.

Pontifical Council for Social Communications
"Many online users on social networks are disciples of the Lord, and the Pope invites all these people to be witnesses to the authenticity of their lives.”

Overall, the take away message the Pope conveys is to use communication tools not just to connect with people, but to actually establish meaningful relationships that go beyond the computer or phone screens.

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