The Pope Met With Members Of The Dicastery For Communication. Photo: Vatican Media

Take Risks to Meet the Other in Communication: Pope’s Three Directives to the Dicastery for Communication

The Holy Father’s off-the-cuff address to the participants in the Plenary Assembly of the Dicastery for Communication .

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(ZENIT News / Vatican City, 14.11.2022).- On Saturday, November 12, the Pope received in audience –in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace–, the participants in the Plenary Assembly of the Dicastery for Communication. The Assembly focused on the theme ”Synod and Communication: A Path to Develop.” Although the Pontiff had a prepared address, he opted to speak impromptu. 

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning and welcome!

I thank Dr Ruffini for his kind words, and I greet all those taking part in the Plenary Assembly of the Dicastery for Communication, whose theme is “Synod and Communication: A Path to Develop.” And this is the message, eight pages . . . If I start to read them, when I arrive at the fourth you will have forgotten what I said in the first! And I think it’s better that you take this message with you; Dr Ruffini will give a copy to everyone. And so I’ll be able to say something more spontaneous and also “without censure,” which is the more fun!

When we speak of communication, we speak of “unidirectional communication,” but there is no unidirectional communication: it comes and goes, it comes and goes. And there is growth in this also. Only parrots communicate with one another in the sense of no return, because they always say the same thing, and the echo doesn’t matter – what is said on the other side. A real communicator must be attentive to the return, to what is coming, to the reaction caused by what one says, because communication is a human connection. What is important is not what I say, no, but what I reply to what the other says to me, to what I hear. Hence, a “loudspeaker” philosophy isn’t necessary, but a philosophy, let’s say, of “the telephone”: one listens, one answers. 

[First: There Is No Communication Without Dialogue]

Dialogue: there cannot be communication without dialogue, without movement, and the latter always implies risks. Because we have that law of inertia, of the inertia that drives you, always sitting on the same thing, saying things, giving the news and then being silent. No. One must listen to how that thing is received, and what reaction it causes. And because of that, there are some [communicators] who move me very much, for example, the enthusiasm of [Professor Andrea] Monda [Director of L’Osservatore Romano]. Monda isn’t a journalist, he is a poet, a creator, because he communicates in poetry, he listens creatively to what people say… Hence, L’Osservatore is, yes, a problem, we all know it – and, instead of closing L’Osservatore, he creates another, that of ‘the Street,’ and it’s done! This is what it means to communicate, to always look for the frontiers, the other . . . it is communicative restlessness. And this leads to a certain disorder, because that’s how we human beings are. And I see things like this among  you. 

For example –this belongs in another part, but I want to say it now– I made two films with Fabio Marchese Ragona, and I saw in those communications the capacity to create things that were heard a lot, because there was that search to go out to the other.

And, in fact, when I read among you, for example, an article of [Alessandro] Gisotti: if you read Gisotti, not only does he reflect but he reflects and creates interior tensions, to mention just a few communicators . . . This is what it means to communicate, this is what it means to take risks, this is what it means to create, this is what it means to go beyond. A communicator who wants to have everything in order, is mistaken in his profession. Be an archivist, you’ll do that better! A communicator must always take risks, always on the way, always committed to life. 

That is what it means to communicate. And I thank the Prefect [Dr Paolo Ruffini] –poor thing, he has the curse of being the Curia’s first lay Prefect–. I thank him because he allows this, he allows growth. “Do I have to grow more?” You know it better than I do, but you do let it grow, I thank you for it. This is what I see in the Dicastery: communication in movement, creative. 

[Second: Communication of Values]

Then there is the communication of values. We can’t descend to communication without values. We must communicate with our values. This doesn’t mean we have to pray a novena to a Saint every day. Christian values, the values that are behind, the values that teach us to go forward. The person who gambles for human values. For example, I see James Martin here. ”Ah, yes, this one works . . . “ Yes, but he wrote a book called “To Learn to Pray.” Read it, because it teaches you how to pray. A man who has values, a communicator who, in addition, is able to teach you the way to communicate with God. This is what it means to be a communicator. To go, to walk, to take risks, with values, convinced that I’m giving my life with my values, Christian values and human values. I mistrust aseptic communicators, those that are pure technique. Yes, but technique on its own doesn’t help, technique helps if there is a heart behind it, if there is a mind, if there is a man, a woman, that gives of him/herself. Be careful not to opt only for technique, because that leads you to an aseptic communication, lacking values, and which can fall into the hands of accountants or ideologies of the moment.  

[Third: Humanism]

And a third thing that I find in your Dicastery, Mister Prefect, and I thank you for it, is humanism. You have provided a human atmosphere, and this must be preserved. A human communication, with human warmth and not purely technical. Technique is necessary for development, but only if a human is there. When you [addressing Sister Veronica Donatello] go to the deafmute and do this [sign language], you know all the technique but your human woman’s heart is there, that of a mother, a sister, behind that communication. This is very important, to communicate with their heart and with what is human, with values, and to go forward.

These are the things I wished to say to you, what most impresses me about you. Let’s hope that Monda doesn’t create a third Osservatore Romano, because he is so enthusiastic that he’s not going to stop! Thank you, I really thank you for everything. Thank you! I rejoice and go forward, take risks, don’t be afraid. Take risks to encounter the other in communication.

And now we ask the Lord to bless us all, we all need God’s blessing.


Translation of the Italian original into Spanish by ZENIT’s Editorial Director and, into English, by Virginia M. Forrester

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