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John Paul II Recognized as Communication Master

Compilation of Media Day Messages Seen as 15th Encyclical

By Mariaelena Finessi

ROME, MAY 2, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Blessed John Paul II was tuned into the “complexity of communication” and up to his last days on earth, he mastered communication in its many forms.

This observation was made last Wednesday by the president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli.

The prelate was presenting a collection titled “Giornalisti abbiate coraggio” (Journalists Have Hope) — a volume that gathers the 27 messages written by Blessed John Paul II for World Communication Days.

“He closely followed the complexity of communication, the emergence of new technologies and, more than anyone else, he knew how to detect the great human coordinates in it, that turning of man to the heart of another man,” Archbishop Celli said.

The text is dedicated to journalists, editors and all those involved in communications with a call to ethics, responsibility, truth, to a good that is essential to the democratic and civic life of the persons and countries in which they live.

“Knowing how to dialogue with this digital culture,” Archbishop Celli continued, “represents one of the greatest challenges that we face.” And the “cultural dialogue” of which John Paul II speaks is “in the profoundest connection” with that of Benedict XVI, whose magisterium pivots on the “capacity to dialogue with the truth of others.”

“In a certain sense,” explained the secretary of the National Federation of the Italian Press, Franco Siddi, “the book could be defined as Wojtyla’s 15th encyclical because it organically presents the thought of the Pope on the themes of social communication, every year developing a specific profile and especially that of the dignity, freedom and ethical character of the journalistic profession.”

On the other hand, as the Polish Pope said in 1980, “few professions require such energy, dedication, integrity and responsibility” as that of the journalist “but, at the same time, there are few professions that have the same impact on the destiny of humanity.”

Silence too

In regard to the World Communication Days, Archbishop Celli observed that “it was the Council fathers, with the approval of the decree ‘Inter Mirifica’ — a turning point in the modern communication of the Church — who wanted a special day dedicated to the reflection and study of the issues and (at the time) development of the mass media by the whole Christian community.”

For the pontificate of John Paul II the media was “an almost indispensable tool of preaching that showed the exigency of broadening horizons and going out in search — in every part of the earth — of unexplored corners for the proclamation and communication of the Gospel.” In other words, the Polish Pope renewed the Pauline command to preach the Gospel from the rooftops.

In concluding, the archbishop pointed also to the importance of the “unsaid” in Wojtyla’s life. Perhaps what was most powerfully expressive, he explained, was the “dramatic silence with which he bid farewell in his last greeting from his window in St. Peter’s Square.” The great communicator had no words. His suffering countenance spoke for him. And never did everyone understand him as much as then. “May the world of the media not forget that lesson,” Archbishop Celli said, that “silence too can be a great form of communication.”

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