May 16, 2021, Ascension Sunday is also the 55th World Communications Day.  The theme for this year is “Come and See” (Jn 1: 46), Communicating by Encountering People Where and as They Are.”

The summarized message of the Holy Father Pope Francis is presented below.

All parishes are reminded to conduct second collections for our Diocesan Social Communications Ministry, twenty percent (20%) of it to be remitted to the CBCP ECSC.  Your second collection will enable us to sustain our media online programs and literacy programs, especially in this time of the pandemic when we witnessed the invaluable contribution of our diocesan and parish Soccom ministers sustain our evangelization efforts through social media.

Vatican, 9 May 9, 2021 – Pope Francis released his message for the 55th World Communications Day 2021 for priests to impart to the faithful on Ascension Sunday, May 16, 2021.

Dubbed with theme “Come and see” (John 1: 39), Pope Francis talked about a form of authentic communication of going and seeing for ourselves, “to spend time with people, to listen to their stories and to confront reality, which always in some way surprises us.”

The Holy Father warned against “hitting the streets”, a term that implies reportage done “in front of personal or company computers and on social networks, without ever meeting people face to face to research stories or to verify certain situations firsthand.”

He described the Gospel as news stories, taking off from the story of Nathaniel who was told by Philip to simply “come and see”: “Nathaniel did go and see; and from the moment his life changed.  That is how Christian faith begins, and how it is communicated: as direct knowledge and born of experience, and not of hearsay.”

As journalists are called to go “where no one else thinks of going: a readiness to set out and a desire to see… it would a loss not only for news reporting, but for society and democracy, where voices fade away.  Our entire human family would be impoverished.”

The Holy Father refers to those families “rapidly slipping into poverty who remain largely hidden” or “people who are no longer ashamed to wait in line before charitable organizations to receive a package of provisions;” yet, do not tend to make news.

He also recognized the opportunities of the Internet, yet, warned us of its hidden dangers: “The risk of misinformation being spread on social media has become evident to everyone.”  He reminded everyone “to be responsible for the communication we make, for the information we share, for the control that we can exert over fake news by exposing it.”

In seeing things firsthand, “we do not communicate merely with words, but with our eyes, the tone of our voice and gestures.  Jesus’ attractiveness to those who met him depended on the truth of his preaching; yet the effectiveness of what he said was inseparable from how he looked at others, from how he acted towards them, and even from his silence.”  Thus, the invitation to “come and see continues to be essential.

Pope Francis reminded that the Good News of the Gospel spread throughout the world was a result of “person-to-person, heart-to-heart encounters with men and women who accepted the invitation to ‘come and see’ and were struck by the surplus of humanity that shone through gaze, the speech, and gestures of those who bore witness to Jesus Christ.”

He challenged everyone to communicate by encountering people, where they are and as they are: “The Gospel comes alive in our own day, whenever we accept the compelling witness of people whose lives have been changed by their encounter with Jesus.” / Fr. Lito Jopson, DPSoccom

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