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Monday, December 15, 2014

To Catholic television workers: avoid the sins of the media

Vatican City, 15 December 2014 (VIS) – This morning Pope Francis met with the managers and workers of TV2000, an Italian Church television broadcasting company, with whom he wished to share “three thoughts on the role of the communicator”, recalling that “the Catholic media have a very difficult mission in relation to social communication: seeking to preserve it from all that distorts and twists it for other purposes. Often communication is subject to propaganda, ideologies, political ends, or for the control of the economy or technology. The first thing that is beneficial to communication is parrhesia, or rather the courage to speak directly, to speak frankly and freely. … If, instead, we are worried about tactical aspects, our words become artificial, and we communicate nothing. Freedom also means freedom from fashions, clichés, pre-packaged formulas. … We must reawaken words. But every word has a spark of fire and life within. Reawaken that spark, so that it comes out. So this is the first task of the communicator: to reawaken the word”.

Secondly, he emphasised the need to avoid “filling” and “closing”; the first takes the form of “saturating our perceptions with an excess of slogans that annul our thoughts instead of setting them into motion”, whereas the second is that of seeking short cuts instead of favouring longer and more complex routes of understanding, “choosing to present an individual as if he or she could solve all our problems, or on the contrary, as a scapegoat onto whom we can discharge all our responsibilities. [It is] jumping to conclusions immediately, instead of making the effort to represent the complexity of real life”.

Finally, Francis mentioned the third mission, “speaking to the whole person … avoiding the sins of the media: disinformation, slander and defamation”. Authentic communication, he stressed, “is not concerned with attention-grabbing. … It is necessary to speak to people as a whole: to their mind and their heart, so that they know how to see beyond the immediate, beyond a present that risks being forgetful and fearful of the future”. Of these three sins, “the most insidious is disinformation, as it leads to mistakes and to believing only a part of the truth”.

These three tasks bring to life “the culture of encounter, so necessary in an increasingly pluralistic context. Confrontation does not lead anywhere”, he concluded. “Creating a culture of encounter: it is an important job for you”.

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