Every year on the Feast of St. Francis de Sales (celebrated on January 24), we receive my favorite papal "gift" - the Pope's message for World Communications Day. This year, the focus of that document is highlighted in its title "The truth will set you free” (Jn 8:32). Fake news and journalism for peace".
Some folks may skip reading this document, believing it only pertinent to professional communicators and journalists. But in today's world, where each of us holds in our pocket or purse the tools to communicate our thoughts and ideas to a worldwide platform, we are all "journalists". Whether we tell our stories on Instagram or tweet them in 280 characters or less, there is important fodder for us in Pope Francis's reminder that each of us is called to be messengers of truth.Inspired by @Pontifex #WorldCommunicationsDay message, how are we each called to use our gifts to spread peace, light and truth? Click To Tweet
I was especially moved by the final portion of that document, which challenges each of us to look at the ways in which we can use the spread of information effectively to make lasting change in our world. The wonderful final prayer has been rendered into video form by the team at Salt + Light Television:
From Pope Francis:
"I would like, then, to invite everyone to promote a journalism of peace. By that, I do not mean the saccharine kind of journalism that refuses to acknowledge the existence of serious problems or smacks of sentimentalism. On the contrary, I mean a journalism that is truthful and opposed to falsehoods, rhetorical slogans, and sensational headlines. A journalism created by people for people, one that is at the service of all, especially those – and they are the majority in our world – who have no voice. A journalism less concentrated on breaking news than on exploring the underlying causes of conflicts, in order to promote deeper understanding and contribute to their resolution by setting in place virtuous processes. A journalism committed to pointing out alternatives to the escalation of shouting matches and verbal violence.
To this end, drawing inspiration from a Franciscan prayer, we might turn to the Truth in person:
Lord, make us instruments of your peace.
Help us to recognize the evil latent in a communication that does not build communion.
Help us to remove the venom from our judgments.
Help us to speak about others as our brothers and sisters.
You are faithful and trustworthy; may our words be seeds of goodness for the world:
where there is shouting, let us practice listening;
where there is confusion, let us inspire harmony;
where there is ambiguity, let us bring clarity;
where there is exclusion, let us offer solidarity;
where there is sensationalism, let us use sobriety;
where there is superficiality, let us raise real questions;
where there is prejudice, let us awaken trust;
where there is hostility, let us bring respect;
where there is falsehood, let us bring truth.