Pope: Speak truth with love, denounce evil without alienating sinners

By Carol Glatz

CITY (CNS) — Use the power of communication to build bridges and heal wounds,
not generate hatred or misunderstanding, Pope Francis said.

Catholic Church, too, must proclaim the truth and denounce injustice without
alienating everyone in need of God’s help, he said in his message for World
Communications Day.

can and we must judge situations of sin — such as violence, corruption and
exploitation -– but we may not judge individuals, since only God can see into
the depths of their hearts,” he said. “It is our task to admonish
those who err and to denounce the evil and injustice of certain ways of acting
for the sake of setting victims free and raising up those who have

coincide with the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis dedicated this year’s message to
the theme, “Communication and Mercy: A Fruitful Encounter.” The
message, released Jan. 22, was dated Jan. 24, the feast of St. Francis de
Sales, the patron saint of journalists. Most dioceses will mark World
Communications Day May 8, the Sunday before Pentecost.

his message, the pope said that what people say, how they say it and what
actions they take must all “express God’s compassion, tenderness and
forgiveness for all.” Only by giving witness to and preaching with Jesus’
warmth and mercy can the words of faith come alive to touch people’s hearts and
sustain them on the journey toward fullness of life, he said.

since everyone is a child of God, no one must exclude another — “without
exception” — from dialogue, he said.

church and her ministers need to communicate in a way that never implies
“a prideful and triumphant superiority over an enemy, or demean those whom
the world considers lost and easily discarded.”

our way of communicating help to overcome the mindset that neatly separates
sinners from the righteous,” he said, since mercy is what helps alleviate
“life’s troubles and offer warmth to those who have known only the
coldness of judgment.”

is to be upheld with love, he said, and “only words spoken with love and
accompanied by meekness and mercy can touch our sinful hearts. Harsh and
moralistic words and actions risk further alienating those whom we wish to lead
to conversion and freedom, reinforcing their sense of rejection and

who feel a world rooted in mercy would be “hopelessly idealistic or
excessively indulgent” should think about the beauty of love between
parents and their children in which love is never dependent on meeting certain

would like to encourage everyone to see society not as a forum where strangers
compete and try to come out on top, but above all as a home or a family, where
the door is always open and where everyone feels welcome.”

beautiful it is when people select their words and actions with care, in the
effort to avoid misunderstandings, to heal wounded memories and to build peace
and harmony,” he said.

Francis said merciful communication applies also to all digital platforms and
social networks, which are public meeting-places “where we can either
encourage or demean one another, engage in a meaningful discussion or unfair

Internet can help us to be better citizens” and can build a world that is
“healthy and open to sharing.”

and actions should “help us all escape the vicious circles of condemnation
and vengeance which continue to ensnare individuals and nations, encouraging
expressions of hatred. The words of Christians ought to be a constant
encouragement to communion and, even in those cases where they must firmly
condemn evil, they should never try to rupture relationships and
communication,” he said.

pope made special mention of people engaged in politics and those who help form
public opinion, saying they must be especially careful about “the way they
speak of those who think or act differently or those who may have made

is easy to yield to the temptation to exploit such situations to stoke the
flames of mistrust, fear and hatred,” he said.

and creativity are needed to guide people toward reconciliation and to offer
“real solutions to ancient conflicts and the opportunity to build lasting

Dario Vigano, prefect of the Secretariat for Communications, told reporters
that the pope’s message again underlines the importance of the church living
Gospel truths in words and deeds as a key part of the way it communicates.

church we are called to be can only live according to Jesus’ words, which
proclaim a mercy that surpasses every law, and can only mirror Jesus’ approach
by taking on his feelings, attitude and conduct” so that the church can
reveal “the merciful face of God in Christ,” he said in his written

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text of the pope’s World Communications Day message in English is available
online at:

text of the pope’s World Communications Day message in Spanish is available
online at:https://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/es/messages/communications/documents/papa-francesco_20160124_messaggio-comunicazioni-sociali.html


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