In our Vincentian Family Commissions meetings last week in Rome, one of the topics raised and discussed on more than one occasion was communications. Questions discussed were how are we communicating across commissions, how we are communicating with the Vincentian Executive Committee, how communications are across the Vincentian Family as a whole and how we are embracing social media outlets to communicate our messages.
They were all informative discussions and very fitting given that a few days later, Pope Francis shared a message for the 51st World Communications Day. Below is the beginning of his message with a link to the complete article, along with some questions for consideration regarding communications within your branch of the Vincentian Family.
MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
FOR THE 51st WORLD COMMUNICATIONS DAY
“Fear not, for I am with you” (Is 43:5):
Communicating Hope and Trust in our Time
Access to the media – thanks to technological progress – makes it possible for countless people to share news instantly and spread it widely. That news may be good or bad, true or false. The early Christians compared the human mind to a constantly grinding millstone; it is up to the miller to determine what it will grind: good wheat or worthless weeds. Our minds are always “grinding”, but it is up to us to choose what to feed them (cf. SAINT JOHN CASSIAN, Epistle to Leontius).
I wish to address this message to all those who, whether in their professional work or personal relationships, are like that mill, daily “grinding out” information with the aim of providing rich fare for those with whom they communicate. I would like to encourage everyone to engage in constructive forms of communication that reject prejudice towards others and foster a culture of encounter, helping all of us to view the world around us with realism and trust.
I am convinced that we have to break the vicious circle of anxiety and stem the spiral of fear resulting from a constant focus on “bad news” (wars, terrorism, scandals and all sorts of human failure). This has nothing to do with spreading misinformation that would ignore the tragedy of human suffering, nor is it about a naive optimism blind to the scandal of evil. Rather, I propose that all of us work at overcoming that feeling of growing discontent and resignation that can at times generate apathy, fear or the idea that evil has no limits. Moreover, in a communications industry which thinks that good news does not sell, and where the tragedy of human suffering and the mystery of evil easily turn into entertainment, there is always the temptation that our consciences can be dulled or slip into pessimism.
I would like, then, to contribute to the search for an open and creative style of communication that never seeks to glamorize evil but instead to concentrate on solutions and to inspire a positive and responsible approach on the part of its recipients. I ask everyone to offer the people of our time storylines that are at heart “good news.”
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1) How would you rate communications within your branch of the Vincentian Family? Are there gaps between the leadership and those serving?
2) How can you improve communication within your branch? …communication with the executive leadership of your branch? …communication with the overall Vincentian Family?
3) Are we sharing good news of hope and trust within the Vincentian Family? How about within our circle of family and friends?