Archbishop Eamon Martin, chairman of the Irish bishops’ Council for Communications, today welcomed this year’s message from Pope Francis for the 48th World Day of Social Communications.
The theme for this year’s communications message is: ‘Communication at the Service of an Authentic Culture of Encounter’. The message, which is the first Communications Day message from Pope Francis, was presented this morning at a press conference in the Vatican Press Office ahead of tomorrow’s Feast of Saint Francis de Sales, patron of journalists, writers and editors.
Commenting on the newly released message Archbishop Eamon said: “Pope Francis is inviting us to reflect on what it means for us, despite our limitations, to encounter others in the light of the Gospel. He makes use of the parable of ‘The Good Samaritan’ to challenge us, in all our communications, to become ‘neighbours’ to one another, and especially to those who are isolated or excluded in any way. In his message Pope Francis sets out a challenge when he says “As I have frequently observed, if a choice has to be made between a bruised Church which goes out to the streets and a Church suffering from self-absorption, I certainly prefer the first. Those “streets” are the world where people live and where they can be reached, both effectively and affectively.”
I very much echo the Pope’s sentiments when he says that it is not enough to be a passerby on the digital highways. I encourage people of faith to be present as neighbours in the digital media, and to bring the message and compassion of Christ to all those they meet online. I applaud those in Ireland who witness to their love of Jesus on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and a host of other digital platforms. Many of our parishes and dioceses are developing a strong presence on the world wide web through webstreaming of Mass and other liturgies, sacred prayer spaces online, short video testimonies and discussion forums on the Word of God and other matters of faith. The digital highway is one of “those streets” which Pope Francis describes as “a street teeming with people who are often hurting, men and women looking for salvation or hope. By means of the internet, the Christian message can reach “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
The conclusion of this year’s message for World Communications Day offers us a gentle and beautiful challenge from our Holy Father: “Let our communication be a balm which relieves pain and a fine wine which gladdens hearts. May the light we bring to others not be the result of cosmetics or special effects, but rather of our being loving and merciful “neighbours” to those wounded and left on the side of the road”. I am particularly taken by Pope Francis call: “Let us boldly become citizens of the digital world. The Church needs to be concerned for, and present in, the world of communication, in order to dialogue with people today and to help them encounter Christ”.