The World Day of Social Communications will be formally celebrated on Sunday 2 June – the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord – which falls on the Sunday before Pentecost Sunday. Pope Francis has chosen the theme:
“We are members one of another (Eph 4:25) From social network communities to the human community”.
Pope Francis has also published a rather special message for this 53rd World Communications day. Offering us new ‘eyes’ and a new perspective on the role and place of social communications, which play such a huge part in all our lives. The message is worth reading in its entirety.
An extract from the final paragraph below reminds us that the centre and focus of communication is the person.
The metaphor of the body and the members leads us to reflect on our identity, which is based on communion and on “otherness”. As Christians, we all recognise ourselves as members of the one body whose head is Christ. This helps us not to see people as potential competitors, but to consider even our enemies as persons. We no longer need an adversary in order to define ourselves, because the all-encompassing gaze we learn from Christ leads us to discover otherness in a new way, as an integral part and condition of relationship and closeness.
Such a capacity for understanding and communication among human persons is based on the communion of love among the divine Persons. God is not Solitude, but Communion; he is Love, and therefore communication, because love always communicates; indeed, it communicates itself in order to encounter the other.
The full text of this year’s World Communications Day message is available HERE
From a “like” to an “amen”
The image of the body and the members reminds us that the use of the social web is complementary to an encounter in the flesh that comes alive through the body, heart, eyes, gaze, breath of the other.
- If the Net is used as an extension or expectation of such an encounter, then the network concept is not betrayed and remains a resource for communion.
- If a family uses the Net to be more connected, to then meet at table and look into each other’s eyes, then it is a resource.
- If a Church community coordinates its activity through the network, and then celebrates the Eucharist together, then it is a resource.
- If the Net becomes an opportunity to share stories and experiences of beauty or suffering that are physically distant from us, in order to pray together and together seek out the good to rediscover what unites us, then it is a resource.
We can, in this way, move from diagnosis to treatment: opening the way for dialogue, for encounter, for “smiles” and expressions of tenderness… This is the network we want, a network created not to entrap, but to liberate, to protect a communion of people who are free.
The Church herself is a network woven together by Eucharistic communion, where unity is based not on “likes”, but on the truth, on the “Amen”, by which each one clings to the Body of Christ, and welcomes others.
From the Vatican, 24 January 2019, the Memorial of Saint Francis de Sales.
Get pdf version papa-francesco_20190124_messaggio-comunicazioni-sociali
Note: the bullet points added to the text above are my own.