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With ‘High Professional Conscience,’ Christian Journalists Are Required to Offer a New Witness

Francis Tells Belgian Christian Publication ‘Tertio’ to Transmit Hope

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By one’s high professional conscience, the Christian journalist is required to offer a new witness in communications…

Pope Francis stressed this to a delegation of the Belgian Christian Weekly “Tertio” today, Sept. 18, 2020, in the Vatican, on the occasion of its twentieth anniversary.

Encouraging the journalists to be heralds of hope, he also urged them to pursue “a positive view of people and events, rejecting prejudices.”

In December of 2016, the Holy Father granted an interview on the subject of Synodality, to this Dutch-speaking weekly, which this year celebrates its twentieth anniversary. “A Christian journalist is invited to bring a new witness in the world of communication without veiling the truth or manipulating the information,” he said during this morning’s audience.

The Pontiff applauded ”the existence of Christian media specialized in quality information on the life of the Church in the world, and contributing to a formation of consciences.” Pope Francis also invited the journalists “to make the voice of the Church heard and that of Christian intellectuals in a media scenario that is ever more secularized, in order to enrich with constructive reflections.”

The name “Tertio” refers to John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter Tertio Milllennio Ineunte,” in preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000.

Here is a translation of the Pope’s address to those present at the audience.

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The Holy Father’s Address

Dear Brothers and Sisters, welcome!

I’m happy to meet with you, collaborators of the Christian weekly “Tertio,” which is celebrating its twentieth anniversary. I wish you a profitable pilgrimage to Rome, and I congratulate you for all that you do in the field of information and communication. I thank Monsignor Smet and Mister Van Lierde for their words of introduction.

In the society in which we live, information is an integral part of our everyday. When it is of quality, it enables us to understand better the problems and challenges that the world is called address, and it inspires individual, family and social behaviour. Very important, in particular, is the presence in the media of Christians specialized in quality information on the life of the Church in the world, capable of contributing to a formation of consciences.

Moreover, the very name of your weekly, “Tertio,” makes reference to Saint John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter Tertio Millennio Adveniente, <written> in view of the Great Jubilee of the year 2000, to prepare hearts to receive Christ and His liberating message. Therefore, such reference is not only a call to hope but aims also to have the voice of the Church heard and that of Christian intellectuals in an ever more secularized media scenario, in order to enrich it with constructive reflections. By seeking a positive view of people and events <and> rejecting prejudices, an attempt is made to foster a culture of encounter through which it’s possible to see the reality with a confident look.

Notable also is the contribution of the Christian media to have a new lifestyle grow in Christian communities, free from every form of preconception and exclusion. In fact, we know, “gossip closes the heart to the community, it closes the unity of the Church. The great gossiper is the devil, who is always saying awful things about others, because he is a liar who seeks to disunite the Church, to alienate brothers and not build community” (Angelus, September 6, 2020).

Communication is an important mission for the Church. Christians committed in this realm are called to implement concretely the Lord’s invitation to go into the world and proclaim the Gospel (cf. Mark 16:15). By his high professional conscience, the Christian journalist is required to offer a new witness in the world of communication without concealing the truth or manipulating the information. In fact, “in the confusion of voices and messages that surround us, we are in need of a human narration, which speaks to us of ourselves and of the beauty that dwells in us. A narration which is able to look at the world and events with tenderness; which talks of our being part of a living fabric, which reveals the intertwining o f the threads with which we are connected to one another” (Message for the 54th Week of Social Communications, January 24, 2020). You are protagonists of this “narration.”,

The Christian professional of information must be, therefore, a bearer of hope and of confidence in the future, because, only when the future is welcomed as a positive and possible reality, can the present also become liveable. These reflections can also help us, especially today, to nourish hope in the situation of pandemic that the world is going through. You are sowers of this hope in a better tomorrow. In the context of this crisis, it’s important that the means of social communication contribute, so that people do not become ill from loneliness and can receive a word of comfort.

Dear friends, I renew my encouragement for your commitment and I thank God for your witness in the course of these twenty years, which have enabled your Weekly to earn a good reputation. As Saint John Paul II stressed “”the Church looks at you, who operate in the field of culture and communication, with confidence and anticipation, because [ . . . ] you are called to read and interpret the present time and to identify the ways for a communication of the Gospel in keeping with the languages and sensibility of contemporary man” (Address to the Participants in the Congress for Operators of Communication and Culture Promoted by CEI, November 9, 2020).

I entrust to the Holy Virgin your work at the service of encounter between peoples and societies. May She turn her gaze to each one of you and help you to be faithful disciples of her Son in your profession. I bless you all, collaborators of “Tertio,” family members as well readers of the newspaper. And I ask you, please, not to forget to pray for me.

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]


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