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Communication as Encounter with Persons

In his message for this year’s 55th World Communications Day, Pope Francis invites us to “Communicate by encountering people, where they are and as they are.” Once again, we are reminded that when we communicate, we are encountering persons in the fullest sense, in their lives, stories, hopes and needs.  As we attempt to listen, we must open ourselves, see them, welcome them, and allow ourselves to be surprised… A Christian communicator does not repeat old news or messages; a Christian communicator does not arrive already having the final word and rote content, even if it is religious. “This approach is less and less capable of grasping the truth of things and the concrete lives of people, much less the more serious social phenomena or positive movements at the grass roots level…. The crisis of the publishing industry risks leading to a reportage created in newsrooms, in front of personal or company computers and on social networks, without ever “hitting the streets”, meeting people face to face to research stories or to verify certain situations first hand,” says the Pope.

“Unless we open ourselves to this kind of encounter, we remain mere spectators, for all the technical innovations that enable us to feel immersed in a larger and more immediate reality…. Many situations in our world, even more so in this time of pandemic, are inviting the communications media to ‘come and see.’  We can risk reporting the pandemic, and indeed every crisis, only through the lens of the richer nations.” Instead, we could gather and give voice to so many stories of generosity, unity, cooperation, solidarity, sacrifice, charity, lived out by individuals and groups during the pandemic. While observing all the sanitary measures to stay safe, the Christian spirit has remained alive and well in our daily life.

Catholic communicators are witnesses and neighbors, not just spectators or data machines. we are witnesses in situations where others do not go or do not want to go; witnesses to the many understandings of life that we find and share in our journey; witnesses with commitment, courage, and at the service of the truth of reality. “The challenge that awaits us, then, is to communicate by encountering people, where they are and as they are.” The Spirit of our Lord leads us to that encounter.

Luis García Orso, S.J.

Mexico, May 7, 2021


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