Reject prejudice, leave space for hope in communications, pope says

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — At a time when the media seem to feed
a “vicious cycle of anxiety” and a “spiral of fear,”
Christians should respond with honest stories that identify problems and evil,
but also inspire real solutions, Pope Francis said.

“Every new tragedy that occurs in the world’s history can
also become a setting for good news, inasmuch as love can find a way to draw
near and to raise up sympathetic hearts, resolute faces and hands ready to
build anew,” the pope wrote in his message for World Communications Day

Following a long tradition, the pope’s message was released
Jan. 24, the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of journalists. The
Vatican and most dioceses will mark World Communications Day May 28, the Sunday
before Pentecost.

The pope chose “‘Fear not, for I am with you.’
Communicating Hope and Trust in Our Time” as the theme for the 2017

In a letter to directors and editors in chief of a variety
of media outlets, Msgr. Dario Vigano, prefect of the Vatican Secretariat for
Communications, called for a discussion and debate on the pope’s message and
particularly the pope’s call for “constructive forms of communication that
reject prejudice toward others and foster a culture of encounter, helping all
of us to view the world around us with realism and trust.”

Presenting the letter in the Vatican press office, Msgr.
Vigano was joined by Delia Gallagher of CNN for a discussion about the text and
about the rapidly changing news media.

“The pope is not calling us to recount the world of
Heidi” or any other fairy tale, Msgr. Vigano said. Trials and suffering
are part of real people’s lives, but the stories of those struggles also should
“open spaces of hope.” For example, he said, the real story in late
January about a hotel in central Italy buried by an avalanche after a series of
earthquakes includes not only the recovery of the bodies of victims, but
stories of the courage of the rescuers and the generosity and solidarity of
people in nearby towns.

Gallagher said the pope’s message is especially important at
a time when the truth of news reports is constantly questioned and when the
“Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2016” was

In his letter, Pope Francis said promoting hope and
confidence is not to pretend evil does not exist or to spread misinformation,
rather it means identifying and reporting ills in a way that does not
“generate apathy, fear or the idea that evil has no limits.”

A particular problem today, he said, is reporting about
tragedies and human suffering in a way that almost turns the story into

What is needed, he said, is “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.”

The story of Jesus is a clear example, the pope wrote.
“This good news — Jesus himself — is not good because it has nothing to
do with suffering, but rather because suffering itself becomes part of a bigger
picture. It is seen as an integral part of Jesus’ love for the father and for
all mankind.”

For Jesus and for all who believe in him, “hardship and
the cross do not obstruct, but bring about God’s salvation,” he said.
“Weakness proves stronger than any human power and failure can be the
prelude to the fulfillment of all things in love.”

Faith tells Christians that God is at work at every moment
in an individual’s life and at every moment of human history, he said. That
confidence always has given Christians hope, which is “the humblest of
virtues for it remains hidden in the recesses of life, yet it is like the yeast
that leavens all the dough.”

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Editors: The text of the pope’s message in English is
available at:

The text in Spanish can be found at:

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