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Mercy, dialogue to be the focus of World Communications Day

Announced Tuesday, this year’s theme for World Communications Day is inspired by the upcoming Jubilee of Mercy, and stresses that social communications should be centered on mercy, dialogue and welcome.

The Pontifical Council of Social Communication announced the choice of “Communication and Mercy: a fruitful encounter” in a Sept. 29 communique from the Vatican.

“Clearly determined” by the Holy Year for Mercy, the theme “highlights the capacity of good communication to open up a space for dialogue, mutual understanding and reconciliation, thereby allowing fruitful human encounters to flourish,” the communique read.

“At a time when our attention is often drawn to the polarized and judgmental nature of much commentary on the social networks, the theme invokes the power of words and gestures to overcome misunderstandings, to heal memories and to build peace and harmony.”
The jubilee was announced by Pope Francis during a March 13 penitential service, the second anniversary of his papal election. It will open Dec. 8 – the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception – and will close Nov. 20, 2016, the Solemnity of Christ the King.

World Communications Day takes place each year on the Sunday before Pentecost, and is the only worldwide celebration called for by the Second Vatican Council in the 1963 document “Inter Mirifica.”

This year the day falls on May 8, 2016. The Pope traditionally releases a message for the day on Jan. 24, observing the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of writers, journalists and the Catholic press.

In paragraph 12 of the Bull of Indiction of the Holy Year, Pope Francis affirms that “the Church is commissioned to announce the mercy of God, the beating heart of the Gospel, which in its own way must penetrate the heart and mind of every person.”

Her language and gestures, he added, “must transmit mercy, so as to touch the hearts of all people and inspire them once more to find the road that leads to the Father.”

In this context, it is helpful to remember to be aware that communication is a key element in promoting a culture of encounter, according to the communique.
It was clarified that although in quoting the Jubilee’s Bull of Indiction, the Pope referred specifically to the language and gestures of the Church, the context of the message makes it clear the message is for all.

“All men and women in their own communications, in their reaching out to meet others, ought to be motivated by a deep expression of welcome, availability and forgiveness.”

The theme serves as a reminder from Pope Francis that in its essence, “communication is a profoundly human achievement,” the communique said in conclusion.

“Good communication is never merely the product of the latest or most developed technology, but is realized within the context of a deep interpersonal relationship.”

by Elise Harris


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