The pope addressed the group of bishops and media professionals at the start of the plenary assembly of the Dicastery for Communications, being held at the Vatican Sept. 23-25.
This is the first plenary assembly of the dicastery since its institution in 2015. In attendance are the officials of the dicastery together with consultors from the international media realm, among whom is EWTN Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael P. Warsaw. Catholic News Agency is a service of EWTN.
The pope commented, “I therefore rejoice that the theme chosen for this Assembly is ‘We are members of one another’. Your, our strength lies in unity, in being members of one another. Only so we can better respond to the needs of the Church’s mission.”
In addition to his prepared speech, which was dispersed in written form, Pope Francis gave lengthy impromptu remarks to the assembly, counseling them to have the “signature of testimony” in everything they do.
“If you want to communicate only the truth without goodness and beauty, stop yourselves, do not do it. If you want to communicate a kind of truth, but without involving yourselves, without giving witness to that truth with your very lives, with your very flesh, stop yourselves, do not do it,” the pope said.
He also warned them against falling into an attitude of resignation when confronted by the worldliness of society.
Worldliness is not new to this century, he said, “it was always a danger, it was always a temptation, it was always the enemy”
In this vein, the pope said he has heard people think the Church should close itself off a little, “be a tiny, but authentic Church.”
“That word that gives me an allergy,” he stated. “If something is, it is not necessary to say ‘authentic.’”
The Church should be small “like leaven, small like salt,” he urged. “This is the Christian vocation!”
To think the Church of the future will be a “Church of the elect” is to risk falling into “the heresy of the Essenes,” he said, which is how “Christian authenticity is lost.”
Francis added that “the resignation to cultural defeat... comes from the bad spirit, it does not come from God.”
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“Do not be afraid,” he encouraged. “We are few? Yes, but with the desire to ‘missionize,’ to show others who we are. With witness.”
He said he also is a “little allergic” to when people say something is “truly Christian.” “We have fallen into the culture of adjectives and adverbs, and we have forgotten the strength of nouns,” he argued.
“This is the mission of communication: to communicate the reality, without sweetening it with adjectives or adverbs.”
Just say something is “a Christian thing,” he said. It is unnecessary to say something is “authentically Christian.”
The communicator must show the “true, the right, the good, and the beautiful,” he said, and he does this with “the soul and with the body; he communicates with the mind, with the heart, with the hands; you communicate with everything.”
“And it is true that the greatest communication is love: in love there is the fullness of communication: love for God and among us.”