Vatican City, Sep 29, 2016 / 07:10 am
Announced Thursday, this year's World Day of Social Communications will focus on the theme of spreading hope and trust in the "Good News" of Jesus Christ and salvation.
"'Fear not, for I am with you' (Is 43:5) Communicating hope and trust in our time," was announced as the theme for 2017 by the Pontifical Council of Social Communication in a communique from the Vatican Sept. 29.
When those in the field of communication are far from the scene of where things are happening, frequently they can "ignore the complexity of the dramas faced by men and women," and fall into "desperation" over "looming fears," the communique says.
The push to "fear not," on the other hand, "is an invitation to tell the history of the world and the histories of men and women in accordance with the logic of the 'good news,'" reminding us that "God never ceases to be a Father in any situation or with regard to any man."
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" on the media of social communications.
This year the day falls on May 28, 2017. 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.
The current communication system, the announcement continued, can cause a "numbness of conscience" or overwhelm us with fear. "Desperation is possible," it said, when "communication is emphasized and transformed into spectacle."
"But in the midst of this tumult a whisper is heard: 'Fear not, for I am with you.'"
Shortly before the announcement of the theme, Pope Francis had a Sept. 22 audience with journalists, during which he reflected on the importance of respect for human dignity, telling them that their profession can never be used as a destructive weapon, nor should it be used to nourish fear.
"Certainly criticism is legitimate, and, I would add, necessary, just as is the denunciation of evil, but this must always be done respecting the other, his life and his affect. Journalism cannot become a 'weapon of destruction' of persons or even nations," the Pope said at the Vatican's Clementine Hall.
"Neither must it nourish fear in front of changes or phenomena such as migration forced by war or by hunger," he said.
In 2016, the theme for World Communications Day was "Communication and Mercy: a fruitful encounter," and was intended to complement the Jubilee Year of Mercy happening in the Church this year. In 2015, the theme centered on the family and communication.
In the communique for the 2016 theme, it was stressed that through our Christian faith, we know that even in death and darkness, light and life can be brought forward.
"We Christians have 'good news' to tell, because we contemplate trustfully the prospect of the Kingdom. Let us learn to communicate trust and hope for history."