Pope Francis meeting participants in the "Universités des Communicants en Eglise" in the Clementine Hall Pope Francis meeting participants in the "Universités des Communicants en Eglise" in the Clementine Hall  (VATICAN MEDIA Divisione Foto)

Pope urges Catholic journalists to communicate Gospel with the heart

Meeting participants in a spiritual formation retreat held in Rome for Catholic communicators serving the Church in France, Pope Francis encourages them not to be afraid to communicate the Gospel with creativity and with an open heart.

By Lisa Zengarini

Pope Francis on Friday welcomed to the Vatican a group of Catholic communicators serving the Church in France, as they concluded a four-day spiritual formation retreat in Rome.

Universités des communicants en Église

The Universités des communicants en Église (UCE) are organized periodically in different locations by the Council for Communication of the Bishops’ Conference of France (CEF) for Catholic communicators working for dioceses, religious congregations or Catholic organizations and associations so they can  share how to make their work more effective. The aim of this specific course in Rome is to prepare the French Church communicators for the Jubilee of Hope in 2025.

During their stay, they met with several Vatican representatives, including Archbishop Rino Fisichella, Pro-prefect for the Section of New Evangelization of the Dicastery for Evangelization, entrusted with the organization of the Jubilee events, and Sr. Nathalie Becquart, Under-Secretary of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops.

Pope Francis handed his address to the group at the beginning of the audience in the Clementine Hall, saying that he couldn’t speak properly because of his bronchitis.

Challenge of good communication in today's hyperconnected world

In his prepared remarks, the Pope highlighted the crucial importance of their mission “in a world so hyperconnected and bombarded with news”, and also of taking a few days off from their work “to share, pray, and listen," helping them to reflect on how to better address the new complex challenges Church communication is facing today.

“These moments serve to rediscover the root of what we communicate, the truth that we are called to bear witness to, the communion that unites us in Jesus Christ”, he said.  “They help us not to fall into the mistake of thinking that the object of our communication is our individual strategies or businesses; not to close ourselves in our solitudes, in our fears or ambitions; not to focus everything on technological progress.”

“The challenge of good communication is more complex today than ever, and the risk is to address it with a worldly mentality: with the obsession of control, power, success; with the idea that the problems are first and foremost material, technological, organizational, and economic.”

Catholic communication about taking care of others

The Pope then drew attention to the importance for Catholic communicators to communicate with the heart, “overturning the perspective and categories of the world." He cited Saint Therese of Lisieux, whose Jubilee marking the 150th anniversary of her birth and the 100th anniversary of her beatification recently concluded in France, as an example of “evangelical radicalism,” which, he said is very much needed for a healthy communication in our time, "polluted by bombastic words, dreams of power and greatness.”

For Catholic communicators, communicating is not propaganda or marketing, the Pope emphasized. It is being in the world to take care of others and sharing a Christian reading of events; it is not giving in to the culture of aggression and denigration,” he insisted.

The Holy Father went on to indicate three key words for their work.

Christian testimony

The first word was witness which, he said, is what makes Catholic communication credible. Pope Francis encouraged the Catholic communicators not to hesitate to share through communication all the good things done in their dioceses, religious congregations and organizations, and to be creative and welcoming, showing the loving face of the Church

“Society wants and needs to hear the word of the Church as the loving Mother of all.”

Courage to communicate the Gospel

Pope Francis then invited the French Catholic communicators not to be afraid to share the joy of the Gospel, even if the recipients may seem indifferent, skeptical, if not openly hostile to the Church. “The men and women of our time thirst for God; they seek an encounter with Him, and they seek Him also through you,” he said.

Broadening our gaze looking afar

Finally, Pope Francis called on the Catholic communicators to broaden their gaze, “looking at the whole world in its beauty and complexity,” focusing on what unites us rather than what divides us, which, he said, needs to be communicated "with the creativity that comes from love.”

Indeed, the Pope concluded, "Everything becomes clearer—even our communication—when we start from a heart that sees with love.”

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12 January 2024, 14:02