Rome (Italy). On the occasion of the liturgical memorial of Saint Francis de Sales, on January 24, 2021, Pope Francis announces the Message for the 55th World Social Communications Day (GCMS), which will be celebrated in May 2021:
“Come and see” (Jn 1: 46). Communicate by meeting people where and how they are.
The message is in continuity with the preceding – “That you may tell your children and grandchildren” (Ex 10:2) Life becomes history – because, says the Pope “To tell the truth of life becoming history it is necessary to leave the comfortable presumption of the ‘already known’ and get moving.
This dynamism starts from the invitation “Come and see” (Jn 1:46), which Philip addresses to Nathanael, that the Pope defines as the “method of all authentic human communication”, an effective word of mouth that sets in motion towards the search for the Truth and modalities with which the faith has been communicated from the time of Jesus until today.
“Come and see” is the call to a clear and honest communication, which knows how to intercept the truth of facts and people, without being satisfied with pre-packaged, ‘hearsay’, self-referential information.
In the Message, Pope Francis talks about the profession of the journalist who, moved by the passion and desire to see and recount reality, has the courage to go where no one goes, to bring to knowledge difficult situations that should be forgotten. To do this, just as the shepherd must have “the smell of sheep“, the journalist must “wear out the soles of his shoes“: go down the street to check for himself, be with people, listen to witnesses, and collect news details that give credibility to the news.
There is no lack of attention to the “tools of the trade”: social media, which multiply the possibilities of sharing, digital technology that ensures timeliness, the network, a formidable tool for reaching people. But information created in newsrooms, in front of a computer, is not enough: “Every tool is useful and precious only if it pushes us to go and see things that we would not otherwise know, if it puts on the net knowledge that otherwise would not circulate, if it allows encounters that otherwise would not happen”.
The “Come and see” described by the Pope is not only for professionals – journalists, cameramen, editors, directors – it is a method for everyone, because the responsibility for what is communicated, for verifying and sharing information lies with everyone : “We are all called to be witnesses of the truth: to go, see and share”.
Reading the Message, the testimony of St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622) – not surprisingly the patron saint of journalists – comes to mind with the courageous and passionate mission of Bishop of Geneva (Switzerland), preaching based on dialogue in the Chablis region, dominated by Calvinism, and above all, the innovative method of the ‘notes’ inserted under the door of the houses of the faithful, with which he made the truths of faith accessible in a language close to the people.
St. Francis de Sales, inspirer of Don Bosco’s work and patron of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, is also part of that “chain of encounters” which for more than two thousand years has communicated the fascination of the Christian adventure, a chain that calls all those who read the Message to take up the challenge proposed at the conclusion: “The challenge that awaits us is therefore that of communicating by meeting people where and how they are.”