According to Monsignor Dario Edoardo Vigano, Prefect of the Secretariat for Communication, the three salient points of Pope Francis’ Message for the 51st World Day of Social Communications, published today on the occasion of the Memorial of Saint Francis of Sales, Patron of Journalists, are “purity of the look,” the “good news,” professionalism and truthfulness in information.
Meeting this morning with journalists accredited to the Vatican Press Office, Monsignor Vigano revealed numerous other salient passages of the document, whose theme is ”Fear Not, for I am with You” (Isaiah, 43:5). To Communicate Hope and Trust in Our Time: rejection of prejudices toward others; promotion of the culture of encounter; the search for an “open communicative style that does not give to evil the role of protagonist.”
In this ‘ethical’ address, the Prefect of the Secretariat of Communication brought to light the continuity with the teaching of Pius XII who, to the question if it is licit to represent evil, answered positively, so long as it does not become a winning and positive protagonist.”
To convey “good news” does not mean, therefore, to spread a naive optimism” but implies a “pure look towards a “complex reality.” After all, noted Monsignor Vigano, the word “look” itself is recurrent in “Bergoglio’s vocabulary,” because the verb “to look” permeates profoundly Jesuit and Ignatian spirituality. “To “observe,” “contemplate”,” and “discern” are acts that commit to “freedom” and “responsibility.”
Monsignor Vigano then mentioned Wim Wenders film “So Far, So Close.” which begins with an evangelical quotation, which seems, in fact, to go in the direction suggested by the Pontiff: “If your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light” (cf. Matthew 6:19-23).
This purity of the look refers to “looking at the impurity of the world without being “taken over” by it, wearing the “right spectacles.” Purity, in this case, is not connected so much with the sixth Commandment, but with the absence of “hypocrisy,” which determines “false relations in which it is difficult to move,” added the head of the Dicastery.
If on one hand it is easier to communicate “scandalous” and “prurient” news, the Pope is certainly not asking journalists to represent “Heidi’s world,” but to “go in depth” and open “areas of hope” for “human dignity.” The “good news” of these days, for instance, is the “support” and “closeness” that the Italians are demonstrating in different ways in relating to those affected by the earthquakes of Central Italy.
In making himself champion of “good news,” Francis is well aware that he must address a world of “divisions” and disagreements, including in the heart of the Church of Rome. However, he himself is aware that it is better to have constructive “criticism” and “respectful dissent” around one, rather than being surrounded by “adulators,” observed Monsignor Vigano.
In face of a communications world that is going through tumultuous transformations, in the passage from printed and televised communication to a “social” communication, the need for “rapid” information often clashes with the need for objectivity and veracity, stressed Monsignor Vigano, who pointed out “ideology” as another enemy of the truth, which puts about rapid and pre-packaged answers distancing itself from the humanity of the one who is the object of the information.
During the round table, moderated by the Assistant Director of the Vatican Press Office, Paloma Garcia Ovejero, the Vatican expert of CNN, Delia Gallagher intervened, who, in the first place, also reflected on the urgency of “good news,” which in the U.S., among others, has a fixed space in almost all headlines: CNN itself, for instance, offers the rubric Heroes, dedicated to the unknown heroes of everyday life.
“Good news,” added the American journalist, is always combined with truthfulness and “accuracy,” always looking for the “right words,” each one working in his own littleness, being “precise” about things,” in order to gain the “trust of those who read and listen.”
Gallagher pointed out a risk regarding modern information, overwhelming the media: the deluge of data, in which positive news, though published, risks being suffocated under the weight of scandals and morbidity.
According to CNN’s Vatican expert, the media’s treatment of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetita is an example of how many papal documents are in need of a long time to be digested, while “news has its progression, we want the whole truth immediately …”, said Delia Gallagher, concluding that to be a journalist “it’s not necessary to be cynics” but, what is needed is a “pure look,” accompanied by the “joy of doing this work,” though laborious.