Archbishop Eamon Martin is Archbishop of Armagh, Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Dromore and chair of the Council for Communications of the Bishops’ Conference, issued the following statement in support of the Holy Father’s message for Pope Francis’ World Communications Day 2020.
“I warmly welcome today’s Pope Francis’ World Communications Day message for 2020 which highlights the value of memory and storytelling for faith and humanity.
“Pope Francis gets straight to the point with the theme of his message So that you can tell your children and grandchildren (Ex 10:2) Life creates history, as he reminds us that “from childhood, we hunger for stories … stories influence our lives … [although] not all stories are good stories”. By choosing his theme from a passage in the Book of Exodus, Pope Francis underpins how particularly precious the place memory and storytelling holds in our lives and in our interpersonal communications.
“When I attended the Youth Synod in Rome in October 2018, Pope Francis surprised us by hosting an evening where young people and much older people came together to learn from each other. The relationship between the generations is a favorite theme of Pope Francis which he emphasizes again today in his World Communications Day message. Throughout his pontificate, the Holy Father has sought to develop the synergy that exists between younger and older people by regularly asking them to join forces to make the world a better place.
“That night, at the 2018 Youth Synod, Pope Francis launched a book called Sharing the Wisdom of Time. In the preface, he says ‘the Lord wants me to say: that there should be an alliance between the young and old people.’ Pope Francis goes further to explain that this cooperation entails sharing experiences of older people, heeding their advice and creating a strong bond with the new generations who are hungry for guidance and support as they prepare for their future. This is exemplified in today’s message:
‘In an age when falsification is increasingly sophisticated, reaching exponential levels (as in deepfake), we need wisdom to be able to welcome and create beautiful, true and good stories. We need courage to reject false and evil stories. We need patience and discernment to rediscover stories that help us not to lose the thread amid today’s many troubles. We need stories that reveal who we truly are, also in the untold heroism of everyday life.’
“The critical role that grandparents play within the family, and especially when it comes to passing on the faith, was recognised in 2008 by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI when he wrote a special Prayer for Grandparents (see below) which was unveiled in Ireland that year at our own National Grandparents Pilgrimage at the Marian Shrine in Knock. As Pope Francis says today, ‘Let us ask for help from the Virgin Mary, who knew how to untie the knots of life with the gentle strength of love’. Reflecting on the theme of this year’s WCD, I wish to pay tribute to the pioneering work of the Catholic Grandparents Association, which began in Ireland and has since spread throughout the world. The Association’s mission has always held dear the key theme of today’s message, namely, to help pass on the faith to the younger generations through memory and storytelling.
“In his message today Pope Francis recounts for our benefit the greatest story ever told,
‘Sacred Scripture is a Story of stories. How many events, peoples and individuals it sets before us! It shows us from the very beginning a God who is both creator and narrator … The Bible is thus the great love story between God and humanity. At its center stands Jesus, whose own story brings to fulfillment both God’s love for us and our love for God.’
Pope Francis continues, ‘Jesus spoke of God not with abstract concepts, but with parables, brief stories taken from everyday life. At this point life becomes story and then, for the listener, story becomes life: the story becomes part of the life of those who listen to it, and it changes them.’
Archbishop Eamon concluded, “I strongly encourage everyone to read this year’s uplifting Communications Day message and to reflect on the power that ‘the story’ has had on our own journey, and on those around us. As Pope Francis says, ‘The history of Christ is not a legacy from the past; it is our story, and always timely. It shows us that God was so deeply concerned for mankind, for our flesh and our history, to the point that he became man, flesh, and history. It also tells us that no human stories are insignificant or paltry.’”