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Listen to Msgr. Paul Tighe’s excellent and entertaining keynote address at the Catholic New Media Conference taking place in Boston this weekend.
It offers an interesting glimpse behind the scenes of the Holy See’s new media endeavours, as well as the way in how they want to relate to and work with us Catholic bloggers and other users of social media (from the Pope down to the average joe sharing his thoughts with the wider world via the Internet).
Msgr. Paul Tighe is the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and as such he has been involved with the creation of the papal Twitter account, the News.va website, the Pope app, and other social media efforts.
Find more reports, blogs, podcasts and other information about the CNMC at SQPN.com.
Photo credit: George Martell – Pilot New Media Office, © Archdiocese of Boston 2013
September 17, 2013 in From Rome, social media | Tags: books, communication, ebook, education, evangelisation, facebook, media, pontifical council for social communications, pope benedict xvi, priesthood, social media, twitter, world communications day | Leave a comment
The Pontifical Council for Social Communications today launched the collected Messages for World Communications Day that Pope Benedict XVI wrote during his pontificate. And the interesting thing is that the Council does so in the form of a free eBook. Via this link you can download the book for both Apple/Android and Kindle.
Pope Benedict’s World Communications Day messages, which may also be read for free via the Vatican website, are essential reading for all Catholics who are involved in some way in communications and media. And that includes all of us who even have just a Twitter or Facebook account.
In his messages, Pope Benedict covered numerous topics, revealed in the titles of the eight documents:
The Media: A Network for Communication, Communion and Cooperation
- Children and the Media: A Challenge for Education
- The Media: At the Crossroads between Self-Promotion and Service. Searching for the Truth in order to Share it with Others
- New Technologies, New Relationships. Promoting a Culture of Respect, Dialogue and Friendship
- The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in a Digital World: New Media at the Service of the Word
- Truth, Proclamation and Authenticity of Life in the Digital Age
- Silence and Word: Path of Evangelization
- Social Networks: portals of truth and faith; new spaces for evangelization
As such, the new eBook is an anthology of sorts, a collection of the emeritus Pope’s thoughts on modern communications for Catholics. As I said, required reading.
Photo credit: AP Photo/L’Osservatore Romano, HO
December 10, 2012 in World Church | Tags: archdiocese of florianópolis, archdiocese of são sebastião do rio de janeiro, brazil, conclave, congregation of the priest of the sacred heart, consistory, diocese of são josé dos campos, education, eusébio cardinal scheid, francis cardinal arinze, liturgy, ordination, pontifical commission for latin america, pontifical council for social communications, pope benedict xvi, pope john paul ii, santi bonifacio ed alessio, theology | 1 comment
For the last time in this year of two consistories, a cardinal leaves the group of cardinal electors, by reaching the venerable age of 80. He is Eusébio Oscar Cardinal Scheid of Brazil, and with his birthday last Saturday, he leaves 119 cardinals who can vote in a conclave.
Born in the south of Brazil, Eusébio studied for the priesthood at the seminary of the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart, an order which he joined as a priest upon his ordination in 1960. His ordination took place in Rome, as he was studying Christology there. He eventually earned a decree in Sacred Theology.
Returning to Brazil, Father Scheid taught dogmatic theology and liturgy for some twenty years. In 1981, he was appointed as bishop of São José dos Campos, northwest of Rio de Janeiro. Bishop Scheid ministered to the faithful there for ten years, after which he was appointed as archbishop of Florianópolis, in his native state of Santa Catarina. He led that archdiocese for another decade, until 2001.
In that year, Archbishop Scheid was called to become the archbishop of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro. Shortly thereafter, he was also appointed as the ordinary for the Eastern Rite Catholics in Brazil. He also served as president of Region IV of the Brazilian Bishops’ Conference.
With the archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro also came a cardinal’s hat, and Archbishop Scheid became Cardinal Scheid in 2003, in Blessed Pope John Paul II”s last consistory. He was granted the title church of Santi Bonifacio ed Alessio. Cardinal Scheid retired as Rio’s archbishop in 2009, and as the Eastern Rite ordinary in 2010.
Cardinal Scheid was at the centre of a small media scandal in 2005, when he publically criticised the faith of Brazil’s president. Prior to the conclave which elected Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Scheid spoke in favour of an African pope, understood by many as support for the election of Cardinal Arinze.
Cardinal Scheid was a member of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the Pontifical Commission for Latin America and the Council of Cardinals for the Study of Organisational and Economic Affairs of the Holy See.
October 10, 2012 in From Rome, World Church | Tags: andré cardinal vingt-trois, archbishop andré-joseph léonard, archbishop luis tagle, archbishop rogelio cabrera lópez, archbishop socrates villegas, bible, bishop gerald kicanas, bishop simo peura, education, evangelisation, francisco cardinal robles ortega, giuseppe cardinal betori, jesus christ, lamar vest, lutheran church, marc cardinal ouellet, new evangelisation, pontifical council for social communications, prayer, pride, secularism, synod of bishop, verbum domini, women | 1 comment
Yesterday saw the third and fourth general congregation of the Synod, presided over by Cardinal Francisco Robles Ortega. The morning session was devoted to interventions from the Synod fathers, and 25 prelates made use of the option to make a five-minute presentation on some point the wanted to highlight. And that time limit is rather strict, as Bishop Kicanas points out: “[I]t must be five minutes, since one’s mic is turned off exactly when five minutes have passed. Those getting close to being turned off rush to get in as much of their text as possible.”
There were several general trends in the interventions: penance, education and a focus on the personal relation with Jesus Christ. As Archbishop Rogelio Cabrera López, appointed to Monterrey in Mexico one week ago, pointed out: ”We cannot evangelise properly if we do not educate properly. And we do not educate properly if we do not evangelise.” Several prelates emphasised the need for humility, most notably the Philippine Archbishops Luis Tagle of Manila and Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan. The latter said:
“The new evangelization calls for new humility. The Gospel cannot thrive in pride. When pride seeps into the heart of the Church, the Gospel proclamation is harmed [...] The hierarchy must shun arrogance, hypocrisy and bigotry. We must punish the errant among us instead of covering up our own mistakes. We are humans among our human flock. All our beauty and holiness we owe to God. This humility will make us more credible new evangelizers. Our mission is to propose humbly not to impose proudly.”
There were also an intervention from one of the fraternal delegates, non-Catholics invited to attend and share their thoughts and experience. The Lutheran Bishop of Lapua in Finland, Simo Peura (pictured), summarised some of the points in the Instrumentum laboris and wished to all attendants and the “Synod of Bishops the Blessing of the Triune God.”
Special guest Dr. Lamar Vest of the American Bible Society, in the morning’s final intervention, emphasised the role of the Bible and harkened back to the previous Synod of Bishops, which was devoted to the Bible.
The fourth general congregation began in the late afternoon with prayer, followed by voting for the members of the Commission for the Message. This commission will compose a nuntius or pastoral Message to the People of God, especially those involved with the Synod. The message will be presented at the end of the Synod. Cardinal Giuseppe Betori and Archbishop Luis Tagle presided over the election, which will select eight members in addition to the aforementioned clerics and two members appointed directly by the pope.
After this election, the interventions continued. Nine Synod fathers intervened, among them Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard, who spoke first about the reality of evil and then about the important role of women in the Church. He said:
“It is time to clarify that, if the Church does not ordain female priests, this is not because they are less capable or less worthy! On the contrary! It is solely because the priest is not only a “minister of the rite”, but a representative of Christ the Groom Who came to wed humanity. Let us give thanks for the quality and the specificity of the massive contribution of women to evangelization. Some strong gestures should underline this clearly. Without joyous women, recognized in their own being and proud of belonging to the Church, there would be no new evangelization.”
Especially some of the South-American Synod fathers, but also Cardinal André Vingt-Trois of Paris, emphasised the importance of countering secularism in the parishes and society.
Following the interventions, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the prefect of the Congregation of Bishops, presented a report on the implementation of the Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini, published after the previous Synod of Bishop which, as mentioned before, was devoted to the Word of God.
The second full day of the Synod was closed with a viewing of an edited version of a documentary produced by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications on the Second Vatican Council.
Photo credit:  Pope Benedict XVI speaking with Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, CNS Photot/Paul Haring,  KT/Markku Pihlaja
August 23, 2012 in World Church | Tags: china, college of cardinals, communism, congregation for the evangelisation of peoples, diocese of hwalien, diocese of kaohsiung, health, jesuits, paul cardinal shan kuo-hsi, philippines, pontifical council for interreligious dialogue, pontifical council for social communications, pontifical gregorian university, pope john paul ii, san crisogono, synod of bishops, taiwan, vietnam | 4 comments
After six years battling cancer, Paul Cardinal Shan Kuo-Hsi passed away yesterday. The former archbishop of Kaohsiung’s death leaves 207 members of the College of Cardinals, of whom 119 are electors.
Born in China in December of 1932, Paul Shan Kuo-Hsi entered the Jesuit order, but fled the country when the Communists took over. In 1955 he was ordained to the priesthood in the Philippines, where he worked as director of the Chinese Section of Sacred Heart School in Cebu City. Studying for a doctorate in spiritual theology at Rome’s Gregorian University, Father Shan too a position at the Jesuit novitiate in Thuduc, Vietnam from 1961 to 1963. He went to Taiwan after taking his final vows in 1963, where he was appointment as master of novices and later as rector of a high school. In 1980, he was consecrated and installed as the third bishop of Hwalien, also in Taiwan. During that time, in 1987, he was chosen to chair the Chinese Regional Bishops’ Conference, a position he would until 2006. In th meantime, in 1991, he was elected as bishop of Kaohsiung. He would remain there until his retirement in 2006. In 1998, he became for a while the only Chinese cardinal when Blessed Pope John Paul II appointed him as cardinal-priest of San Crisogono. The cardinal revealed his having lung cancer shortly after his 2006 retirement.
Cardinal Shan was especially committed to interreligious dialogue, perhaps not surprising in a country where less than 5% of the population is Christian. As bishop of Kaohsiung he worked towards formation of the laity and local priests. In the Curia, Cardinal Shan was a member of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Special Council for Asia of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops
Cardinal Shan Kuo-Hsi was 88.
Photo credit: ChenHao Yang/Flickr
August 11, 2012 in World Church | Tags: abortion, archbishop bruno torpigliani, archdiocese of lipa, archdiocese of manila, bishop francisco claver, college of cardinals, consecration, consistory, diocese of malaybalay, extraordinary form, gaudencio cardinal rosales, ordination, philippines, politics, pontifical council for interreligious dialogue, pontifical council for social communications, pope benedict xvi, priesthood, ricardo cardinal vidal, santissimo nome di maria in via latina, seminary | 1 comment
In the Philippines yesterday, the erstwhile archbishop of one of Catholicism’s global hot spots turned 80. Gaudencio Borbon Cardinal Rosales thus lays down all his duties in the College of Cardinals, and the number of cardinal electors drops to 119.
Born into a physician’s family with political ties in Batangas City in 1932, Gaudencio Rosales expressed his desire to become a priest from a young age. Studying theology at the San José seminary, his ordination to the priesthood came in 1958. He was a priest of the Diocese of Lipa and was assigned to teach at that diocese’s seminary. Later he also became that institution’s rector.
In 1970, there followed Fr. Rosales’ first assignment to a backwater parish. Other priests advised him to leave soon, but Fr. Rosales replied that he would find things to do there. He made contacts with all the faithful of his parish and seemingly made an impression. The bishop, Msgr. Ricardo Vidal, also noticed, and had Fr. Rosales assigned to Batangas City, to the largest parish in the diocese.
In 1974, Fr. Rosales left Lipa, which by then was made an archdiocese, to take up his assignment, as auxiliary bishop of the nation’s capital, Manila. Principal consecrator was the Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, Archbishop Bruno Torpigliani, and Archbishop Vidal was one of the co-consecrators. Bishop Rosales was given the titular see of Oescus in modern Bulgaria. As bishop, he was assigned to oversee several major districts of the archdiocese, and in 1980, he was tasked with the job of rector of the ancient San Carlos Seminary.
Two years, later Bishop Rosales appointed as coadjutor bishop of Malaybalay, on the major southern island of Mindanao. In 1984 he succeeded retiring Bishop Francisco Claver.
After eight years, Bishop Rosales had to leave Malaybalay behind him again, no doubt with pain in his heart, although he did return home as archbishop of his native Lipa. Eleven years later, in 2003, he was reassigned for a final time, again to a diocese familiar to him. Archbishop Rosales became the Primate of the Philippines as he took the see of Manila.
In Pope Benedict XVI’s first consistory, Archbishop Rosales was created a cardinal, with Santissimo Nome di Maria in Via Latina as his title church.
In 2007, upon reaching the age of 75, Cardinal Rosales tendered his resignation as archbishop of Manila, but it would take until 2011 before Rome accepted it. Yesterday he turned 80, leaving the Philippines with no cardinal electors. Until the next conclave, that is.
Cardinal Rosales was not silent. He was critical of the government when needed and defended the teachings of the Church, which lead to clashes, especially concerning the participation of drag queens in the national Flores De Mayo festival, and reminding the faithful about the risk of excommunication for anyone participating in or allowing an abortion. On the other side of the spectrum, he also got into a conflict with traditionalist groups when he heavily curtailed the celebration of Mass in the Extraordinary Form. This led to an order from Rome to reconsider his opposition.
Cardinal Rosales was a member of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and the Council of Cardinals for the Study of Organisational and Economic Affairs of the Holy See.
May 17, 2012 in World Church | Tags: archdiocese of prague, ascension, bishop joseph hlouc, communism, congregation for oriental churches, council of the bishops' conference of europe, czech republic, diocese of ceské budejovice, dominik cardinal duka, frantisek cardinal tomásek, history, miloslav cardinal vlk, politics, pontifical council for social communications, pope john paul ii, priesthood, s. croce in gerusalemme, synod of bishops, vocation, world war ii | 1 comment
With today’s 80th birthday of Czech Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, by chance on Ascension Day, the number of cardinal electors drops to 122, returning it almost back to the legal maximum.
With the fighting spirit of his namesake (‘Vlk’ means ‘wolf’ in Czech), Cardinal Vlk has left his mark as the Church and nation of the Czechs found their place in Europe after the yoke of Communism.
Only ordained a priest at 36, Miloslav Vlk is not so much a product of academia, although he is no slouch there, but worked his way through life in Communist Czechoslovakia – even as a priest he had to work as a window cleaner for eight years in order to stay out of the government’s sights. A worker-cardinal turns 80.
Born in 1932, Miloslav Vlk grew up under the threat and occupation of Nazi Germany. During the height of the war – as entire villages were massacred in retaliation for resistance activities – 11-year-old Miloslav first started thinking about the priesthood. However, considering this a dream unattainable for a farm boy, he instead wanted to become an aircraft pilot. As the war ended, and a new Communist Czechoslovakia was created, Miloslav worked in an automobile factory and did his military service in the first half of the 1950s. He was then able to study archival science in Prague and worked in various archives until the mid-1960s. In 1964, he could finally follow his desire of studying theology in Litomerice. In the summer of 1968, during the Prague Spring of political liberalisation (which would soon be crushed by the Soviet Union), Miloslav Vlk was ordained to the priesthood, 36 years old.
He started his ministry working as secretary to Bishop Joseph Hlouch of Ceské Budejovice. This was apparently reason for state authorities to consider him suspicious, and in 1971, Father Vlk was forced to relocate to various parishes throughout southern Bohemia, and in 1978, he lost his state authorisation to exercise his priestly ministry. From 1978 until the end of 1988, Fr. Vlk lived in hiding, earning an income, first as a window cleaner and, from 1986, as an archivist in the archives of Prague’s State Bank.
In 1989 the tides turned. As the end of Communism in Czechoslovakia loomed, Fr. Vlk was again authorised to exercise his priestly ministry for a ‘trial year’. He worked as a curate near the Bavarian border. And then, in 1990, the country ceased to be Communist…
On 14 February 1990, Blessed Pope John Paul II pulled Father Vlk out of obscurity and appointed him as bishop of his native Ceské Budejovice. He would not be holding that position for very long, because a mere year later, he was called to Prague, to succeed 91-year-old Cardinal Tomášek as archbishop of Prague. As archbishop, and since 1994 as cardinal, Msgr. Vlk concerned himself not only with the local Church, but also with the Church in Europe, mirroring the new Czech Republic’s international outlook. From 1993 to 2001 he was President of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences, He was also the special secretary of the first Special Assembly for Europe of the Synod of Bishops in 1991 and also took part in the ninth General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (1994) and the second Special Assembly for Europe (1999).
Cardinal Vlk resigned as archbishop of Prague in February of 2010 and was succeeded by Dominik Duka. He is cardinal-priest of the Santa Croce in Gerusalemme. He was, until his 80th birthday, a member of the Congregation for Oriental Churches, the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and the Special Council for Europe of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops.
May 5, 2012 in social media | Tags: blogging, communication, media, msgr. paul tighe, onora o'neill, politics, pontifical council for social communications, social media, translation | Leave a comment
An interesting talk by Msgr. Paul Tighe (my translation), on the challenges of the Church in regards to the new media. The monsignor, who is the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, makes the point that new technologies not only change the means by which we communicate, but also the way we communicate. He calls it a “change of paradigm in the very culture of communication”. There are various other interesting topics and points in the text, among them the distinction between inward and outward languages, so do read it all, but I want to highlight a paragraph which is topical for us Catholic bloggers:
“Given the doubtful, and often anonymous, provenance of much of what appears in cyberspace, it becomes very easy for those who wish to deceive and manipulate to disseminate their views. The British philosopher Onora O’Neill has observed the serious social risks that result:
“If the media mislead, or if readers cannot assess their reporting, the wells of public discourse and public life are poisoned. The new information technologies may be anti-authoritarian, but curiously they are often used in ways that are also anti-democratic. They undermine our capacities to judge others’ claims and to place our trust.”
One common response to this phenomenon is that people turn only to sources of information and opinion that they judge to be trustworthy. This is a natural and understandable approach but it is not without risk. Often the judgement as to what sources are trustworthy is rooted in the person’s pre-established world view and serves only to confirm people in their opinions rather than leading to a real search for truth and understanding.
In the political arena, there is the risk that people will only engage with media that they know to support their particular views and they will not be exposed to alternative positions or to reasoned debate or discussion. This is turn will create increasingly polarized and confrontational forms of politics where there is little room for the voices of moderation or consensus.
A similar phenomenon is emerging in the world of Catholic media, especially in the blogosphere, where often it seems not enough for protagonists to propose their own views and beliefs but where they tend also to attack the arguments, and even the person, of those who disagree with them.
It is natural that debates about faith and morals should be full of conviction and passion, but there is a growing risk that some forms of expression are damaging the unity of the Church and, moreover, are unlikely to draw the curious and the seekers to a desire to learn about the Church and its message.”
Msgr. Paul Tighe has the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications since 2007. He was formerly a priest of the Archdiocese of Dublin, Ireland.
April 22, 2012 in From Rome | Tags: antonio maria cardinal vegliò, college of cardinals, congregation for bishops, congregation for divine worship and the discipline of the sacraments, congregation for education, congregation for institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life, congregation for oriental churches, congregation for the causes of saints, congregation for the clergy, congregation for the doctrine of the faith, congregation for the evangelisation of peoples, consistory, curia, domenico cardinal calcagno, dominik cardinal duka, edwin cardinal o'brien, fernando cardinal filoni, francesco cardinal coccopalmerio, george cardinal alencherry, giuseppe cardinal bertello, giuseppe cardinal betori, giuseppe cardinal versaldi, joão cardinal bráz de aviz, john cardinal tong hon, lucian cardinal muresan, manuel cardinal monteiro de castro, pontifical committee for the international eucharistic congresses, pontifical council "cor unum", pontifical council for culture, pontifical council for interreligious dialogue, pontifical council for justice and peace, pontifical council for pastoral care of health care workers, pontifical council for pastoral care of migrants and itinerant people, pontifical council for promoting christian unity, pontifical council for social communications, pontifical council for the family, pontifical council for the laity, pontifical council for the new evangelisation, prosper cardinal grech, rainer cardinal woelki, santos cardinal abril y castelló, supreme tribunal of the roman signatura, thomas cardinal collins, timothy cardinal dolan, wim cardinal eijk | Leave a comment
In the run-up to the previous consistory, we’ve heard often that one of the duties of cardinals is to aid the pope in all manner of Church-related affairs. Exactly how that takes shape became clear yesterday, as the new cardinals have been appointed to seats on various congregations, tribunals, councils and committees. Here follows a list of the dicasteries and the new cardinals that were assigned to them.
- Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: Cardinals Alencherry, Filoni and Coccopalmerio
- Congregation for the Oriental Churches: Cardinals Alencherry, Dolan, Muresan, Filoni and O’Brien
- Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments: Cardinal Vegliò
- Congregation for the Causes of the Saints: Cardinals Monteiro de Castro and Abril y Castelló
- Congregation for Bishops: Cardinals Monteiro de Castro, Abril y Castelló, Bertello and Versaldi
- Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples: Cardinals Tong Hon, Abril y Castelló, Bertello and Calcagno
- Congregation for the Clergy: Cardinals Eijk and Braz de Aviz
- Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life: Cardinals Duka and Versaldi
- Congregation for Education: Cardinals Collins, Eijk, Betori, Woelki, Filoni, Braz de Aviz and O’Brien
- Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura: Cardinals Coccopalmerio and Versaldi
- Pontifical Council for the Laity: Cardinal Vegliò
- Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity: Cardinals Woelki and Coccopalmerio
- Pontifical Council for the Family: Cardinal Vegliò
- Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace: Cardinals Duka and Bertello
- Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”: Cardinal O’Brien
- Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People: Cardinal Monteiro de Castro
- Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Health Care Workers: Cardinal Calcagno
- Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue: Cardinal Tong Hon
- Pontifical Council for Culture: Cardinal Betori
- Pontifical Council for Social Communications: Cardinals Collins and Dolan
- Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation: Cardinal Dolan
- Pontifical Committee for the International Eucharistic Congresses: Cardinal Braz de Aviz
All the Church’s cardinals under the age of 80 (and some over 80) have one or more functions within the dicasteries of the Roman Curia. This is in addition to their regular duties as diocesan bishops or curial prelates. In practice it means that they’ll have to be in Rome a bit more often than before.
Our own Cardinal Eijk has been appointed to the Congregations for Clergy (responsible for all secular priests and deacons) and Education (seminaries and Catholic schools). He will than be in Rome for up to four times a year, as these dicasteries meet. Cardinal Eijk will not be needed in Rome for the day-to-day affairs of the Congregations and, even then, he will of course be able to do a significant amount of work from Utrecht.
These appointments form one of two steps that fully integrate new cardinals into the curia. The other step is the official taking possession of their title churches. This can take some time, sometimes up to a year after the consistory in which a cardinal was created. Of the latest batch, only Cardinals Filoni and Grech have done so. Cardinals Becker, Monteiro de Castro and Tong Hon will take possession of their churches today, and Cardinal Coccopalmerio will follow on Thursday. The dates for the other cardinals are not yet known.
Photo credit: Franco Origlia/Getty Images
January 24, 2012 in From Rome, social media | Tags: bible, communication, crucifixion, facebook, god, holy saturday, jesus christ, liturgy of the hours, pontifical council for social communications, pope benedict xvi, saint francis de sales, social media, translation, twitter, world communications day | Leave a comment
As is customary on today’s feast of St. Francis de Sales, the Holy See publishes Pope Benedict’s annual Message for World Communications Day (here with a link to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications’ new website). This time around, the Holy Father once again speaks about social media and communications, but with the main emphasis on silence. A scarce commodity in modern society, to be sure, silence is here presented is one of two essential elements of communication, next to the word. Where words are spoken, someone else usually listens. Silence also allows for reflection;
“in its absence, words rich in content cannot exist. In silence, we are better able to listen to and understand ourselves; ideas come to birth and acquire depth; we understand with greater clarity what it is we want to say and what we expect from others; and we choose how to express ourselves. By remaining silent we allow the other person to speak, to express him or herself; and we avoid being tied simply to our own words and ideas without them being adequately tested. In this way, space is created for mutual listening, and deeper human relationships become possible.”
Equally important, God also speaks to us in silence. The Holy Father beautifully describes this in the following passage:
“The eloquence of God’s love, lived to the point of the supreme gift, speaks in the silence of the Cross. After Christ’s death there is a great silence over the earth, and on Holy Saturday, when “the King sleeps … and God slept in the flesh and raised up those who were sleeping from the ages” (Office of Readings, Holy Saturday), God’s voice resounds, filled with love for humanity.”
In social media circles, much has been made about the pope’s clear reference to things like Twitter and Facebook status updates: “In concise phrases, often no longer than a verse from the Bible, profound thoughts can be communicated, as long as those taking part in the conversation do not neglect to cultivate their own inner lives.”
All in all, a worthwhile read (also in Dutch), offering proper food for thought for all of us. We all communicate, after all.