Vatican today — January 24, 2012

PRESENTATION OF MESSAGE FOR WORLD COMMUNICATIONS DAY

A press conference was held this morning in the Holy See Press Office to present Benedict XVI’s Message for the forty-sixth World Day of Social Communications, entitled: “Silence and Word: Path of Evangelization.” Participating in today’s conference were Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, Msgr. Paul Tighe, Msgr. Giuseppe Antonio Scotti and Angelo Scelzo, respectively president, secretary, adjunct secretary and under secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

Archbishop Celli recalled how, “each year in his Message for the World Day of Social Communications, the Pope has sought to analyse the culture of communication, offering guidance to modern man and directing the pastoral activity of the Church. Over recent years the Pope has been very attentive to the process and dynamics of communication, especially in the context of the cultural transformations that have arisen as a result of technological progress.”

This year, however, “the Holy Father turns his attention to a ‘classic’ aspect of communication: ‘silence;’ or rather, the pairing of ‘silence and word.’ This aspect . . . is becoming increasingly important in the context of digital culture,” noted the president of the pontifical council, going on to explain how Benedict XVI focuses upon the importance of silence as part of authentic communication. Silence can be a vehicle of expression, it gives others the chance to speak and us the opportunity to listen, think and reflect, the archbishop said. “In essence, it is in silence that I am able to give communication its correct significance, and to avoid being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of communication itself.

“Silence has particular importance in the context of that incessant flow of questions which, in a certain sense, is the driving force of modern communication culture,” he added. The Pope suggests “that at the heart of this flow of questions lies a fundamental question, which is the search for Truth. Here again the importance of silence emerges, as a place where human beings must face themselves and God.” In silence mankind discovers “the possibility to speak with God and about God.” For this reason Benedict XVI reminds people engaged in the task of evangelisation that “both silence and word are essential elements, integral to the Church’s work of communication for the sake of a renewed proclamation of Christ in today’s world.”

SILENCE AND WORD: PATH OF EVANGELIZATION

Today’s Feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron of journalists, marks the World Day of Social Communications, and the Holy Father’s Message for the Day, entitled: “Silence and Word: Path of Evangelization” was made public this morning. Ample excerpts from the English-language version of the text are given below.

On this “World Communications Day 2012, I would like to share with you some reflections concerning an aspect of the human process of communication which, despite its importance, is often overlooked and which, at the present time, it would seem especially necessary to recall. It concerns the relationship between silence and word: two aspects of communication which need to be kept in balance, to alternate and to be integrated with one another if authentic dialogue and deep closeness between people are to be achieved.”

“Silence is an integral element of communication; in its absence, words rich in content cannot exist. In silence, we are better able to listen to and understand ourselves; ideas come to birth and acquire depth. . . . By remaining silent we allow the other person to speak, to express him or herself; and we avoid being tied simply to our own words and ideas without them being adequately tested. In this way, space is created for mutual listening, and deeper human relationships become possible. . . . When messages and information are plentiful, silence becomes essential if we are to distinguish what is important from what is insignificant or secondary. Deeper reflection helps us . . . to make evaluations, to analyse messages; this makes it possible to share thoughtful and relevant opinions, giving rise to an authentic body of shared knowledge. For this to happen, it is necessary to develop an appropriate environment, a kind of ‘eco-system’ that maintains a just equilibrium between silence, words, images and sounds.

“The process of communication nowadays is largely fuelled by questions in search of answers. Search engines and social networks have become the starting point of communication for many people who are seeking advice, ideas, information and answers. . . . Indeed, people today are frequently bombarded with answers to questions they have never asked and to needs of which they were unaware. If we are to recognise and focus upon the truly important questions, then silence is a precious commodity that enables us to exercise proper discernment in the face of the surcharge of stimuli and data that we receive.”

“Ultimately, this constant flow of questions demonstrates the restlessness of human beings, ceaselessly searching for truths, of greater or lesser import, that can offer meaning and hope to their lives. Men and women cannot rest content with a superficial and unquestioning exchange of sceptical opinions and experiences of life — all of us are in search of truth.”

“Attention should be paid to the various types of websites, applications and social networks which can help people today to find time for reflection and authentic questioning, as well as making space for silence and occasions for prayer, meditation or sharing of the word of God. In concise phrases, often no longer than a verse from the Bible, profound thoughts can be communicated, as long as those taking part in the conversation do not neglect to cultivate their own inner lives. It is hardly surprising that different religious traditions consider solitude and silence as privileged states which help people to rediscover themselves and that Truth which gives meaning to all things. The God of biblical revelation speaks also without words: ‘As the Cross of Christ demonstrates, God also speaks by His silence.”

“If God speaks to us even in silence, we in turn discover in silence the possibility of speaking with God and about God. . . . In speaking of God’s grandeur, our language will always prove inadequate and must make space for silent contemplation. Out of such contemplation springs forth, with all its inner power, the urgent sense of mission, the compelling obligation ‘to communicate that which we have seen and heard’ so that all may be in communion with God.”

“In silent contemplation, then, the eternal Word, through Whom the world was created, becomes ever more powerfully present and we become aware of the plan of salvation that God is accomplishing throughout our history by word and deed. . . . This plan of salvation culminates in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, the mediator and the fullness of all revelation. He has made known to us the true face of God the Father and by His Cross and Resurrection has brought us from the slavery of sin and death to the freedom of the children of God. The fundamental question of the meaning of human existence finds in the mystery of Christ an answer capable of bringing peace to the restless human heart. The Church’s mission springs from this mystery; and it is this mystery which impels Christians to become heralds of hope and salvation, witnesses of that love which promotes human dignity and builds justice and peace.

“Word and silence: learning to communicate is learning to listen and contemplate as well as speak. This is especially important for those engaged in the task of evangelization: both silence and word are essential elements, integral to the Church’s work of communication for the sake of a renewed proclamation of Christ in today’s world.”

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS

The Holy Father appointed Bishop Herve Gaschignard, auxiliary of Toulouse, France, as bishop of Aire et Dax (area 9,364, population 362,827, Catholics 261,000, priests 153, permanent deacons 14, religious 211), France. He succeeds Bishop Philippe Breton, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

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Category: From the Vatican