Introduction and background to World Communications Day
World Communications Day is a very important date in the Church calendar because it was the only worldwide celebration called for by the Second Vatican Council and it has been celebrated each year since on the Sunday before Pentecost. It will be celebrated this year on Sunday 12 May.
The message for the 47th World communications Day is on the theme Social Networks: portals of truth and faith; new spaces for evangelization. The message was prepared by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and was published on 25 January last, the Feast of Saint Francis de Sales.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI made some very important points about social networks in this year’s World Communications Day message. He said:
“Social networks are nourished by aspirations rooted in the human heart. People are engaged in building relationships and making friends, in looking for answers to their questions and being entertained, but also in finding intellectual stimulation and sharing knowledge and know-how.”
One of the very interesting points in this year’s message relates to young people and the danger in dismissing social networks as some virtual reality space where young people hang out: “the digital environment is not a parallel or purely virtual world, it is in fact part of the daily experience of many people, especially the young. The Church if she is to have a significant presence on social media needs to have a considered understanding of social networks which are reshaping the dynamics of communication. So if we want to engage with and evangelise, especially the younger generations then we need to understand social networks and have an active presence on them.”
This year’s message also reminds us that there can be a negative side to social networks – in the digital environment too, where it is easy for heated and divisive voices to be raised and where sensationalism can at times prevail, we are called to attentive discernment. We are reminded that Elijah recognised the voice of God, not in the great and strong wind, not in the earthquake or the fire, but in a still small voice. Benedict XVI said: “Even though at times it can be difficult on social networks we need to trust in the fact that the basic human desire is to love and be loved and to find meaning and truth.”
One final point which the message makes is that we should always be conscious that behind social networks and virtual conversations are human beings searching for the answers to life’s questions. Benedict XVI reminds us that social networks offer our contemporaries opportunities for prayer, meditation and sharing the word of God. But these networks can also open the door to other dimensions of faith.
Pope Benedict XVI even hinted at the importance of using tweet ups to bring people together for prayer or liturgical celebrations – he said: “Many people are actually discovering thanks to a virtual contact the importance of direct encounters, experiences of community and pilgrimage. In our effort to make the Gospel present in the digital world, we can invite people to come together for prayer or liturgical celebrations in specific places such as churches and chapels. There should be no lack of coherence or unity in the expression of our faith and witness to the Gospel in whatever reality we are called, whether physical or digital.”
Commenting on this year’s World Communications Day message Bishop John McAreavey said: “For Catholics the human person is at the core of all our communications each day. The theme which Pope Benedict has chosen for this year focuses on the challenges of using social networks and reflects on how these networks can be used to spread the Gospel message. This year’s message also reminds us that behind all of the technology that surrounds us on a daily basis are human beings who are constantly searching for answers to life’s questions. The Holy Father also reminds us of the importance in recognising that the digital environment is not a “parallel or purely virtual world” but that these networks now form part of the daily experience of many people, especially young people. Pope Benedict has also used his message this year to reflect on the importance of social networks for evangelisation.”
Welcoming this year’s theme Bishop Denis Brennan said: “World Communications Day is a very important date in the calendar of the Universal Church. It was the only worldwide celebration called for by the Second Vatican Council. The text of Pope Benedict’s message for World Communications Day is issued today, the Feast of St Francis de Sales, the Patron Saint of journalists. It is an appropriate time for society to recognise the valuable work that journalists undertake and their contribution to the common good.”
Click here to read the full text of this year’s message for World Communications Day.
The Church and Social Media
Pope Francis can be followed on Twitter @Pontifex – he now has six million followers.
Some additional Vatican accounts to follow are:
- The Pontifical Council for Social Communications – Facebook News.va English and Twitter @PCCS_VA. @news_va_en is a Twitter account which shares news from the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, L’Osservatore Romano, Vatican Radio, Press Office and the Vatican Information Service. Another Twitter account worth following is News.va which is a service provided by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications in cooperation with the media offices of the Vatican.
- Year of Faith – @Year_Of_Faith is the official Twitter account for the Vatican’s Year of Faith. There is also a Facebook page Year of Faith
- Vatican Radio – Vatican Radio – English Section is the Facebook page for Vatican Radio and they can be found on Twitter at the account highlighted above.
The Irish Catholic Bishops’ Twitter account is @CatholicBishops and the Facebook Page is Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference. The Bishops’ Conference uses other social media platforms and links to these can be found on www.catholicbishops.ie.
Quite a few of the Councils, Agencies and Offices of the Irish Bishops’ Conference are using social media e.g. ACCORD Catholic Marriage Care Service , Catholic Communications Office, Council for Marriage and the Family, Share the Good News, Vocations Council, Veritas, Irish Bishops’ Drugs Initiative, Trócaire, the Bishops’ Council for Emigrants and the Chaplaincy for Deaf People. Details of these accounts are as follows:
- ACCORD Catholic Marriage Care can be found on Facebook as Accord Catholic Marriage Care and on Twitter as @Accord_Ireland.
- The Bishops’ Council for Marriage and the Family is on Facebook at Council for Marriage and the Family.
- Council for Emigrants is on Facebook as IEC Emigrants
- Intercom Magazine is on Twitter as @IntercomJournal
- The Irish Bishops’ Drugs Initiative is on Facebook as Pastoral Response to Substance Misuse.
- Share the Good News the new 10 year catechetical plan for the Catholic Church has a social media presence which is managed by the Share the Good News Implementation Committee. Find them on Facebook as Share the Good News and on Twitter as @ShareGoodNews.
- Trócaire is on both Twitter and Facebook as @Trocaire.
- Veritas is on Facebook as Veritas and on Twitter as @VeritasIreland
- The Bishops’ Council for Vocations can be found on Facebook as Diocesan Vocations Ireland and on Twitter as @NVocations.
Irish Dioceses on Social Media
- Achonry – Facebook Achonry Killala
- Armagh – Facebook Archdiocese of Armagh and Adyc Be Inspired
- Cloyne – Facebook Cloyne Diocese
- Dublin – Facebook Archdiocese of Dublin and Twitter @DublinDiocese
- Elphin – Facebook Elphin Diocese Ireland and Twitter @elphindiocese
- Ferns – Facebook Ferns Diocesan Vocations and Twitter @FernsDiocese
- Kerry – Facebook Diocese of Kerry
- Kildare and Leighlin – Facebook Kildare & Leighlin Diocese and Twitter @KANDLEi
- Limerick – Twitter @limerickdiocese
- Meath – Facebook Diocese of Meath and Twitter @dioceseofmeath
- Ossory – Facebook Ossory Diocese and Twitter @OssoryDiocese
- Tuam – Facebook Tuam Archdiocese and Twitter @tuamarchdiocese
Prayers for use on World Communications Day
Prayer for Communicators
Lord, let the good news of your marvelous deeds fall on every ear, and let all tongues rejoice in your wisdom, your compassion, your faithfulness, and your love.
Make me bold and let me share your Word with those you desire to reach. As my heart overflows with your love, speak through me.
Let me proclaim your glory and your majesty, and tell of the kindness you have shown your people.
This I ask, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Prayer of Saint Francis de Sales
Be at Peace
Do not look forward in fear to the changes of life;
rather look to them with full hope as they arise.
God, whose very own you are,
will deliver you from out of them.
He has kept you hitherto,
and He will lead you safely through all things;
and when you cannot stand it,
God will bury you in his arms.
Do not fear what may happen tomorrow;
the same everlasting Father who cares for you today
will take care of you then and everyday.
He will either shield you from suffering,
or will give you unfailing strength to bear it.
Be at peace,
and put aside all anxious thoughts and imagination.
St. Francis de Sales 1567-1622
Patron of Journalists, Writers, Editors and the Catholic Press.
Prayer for Journalists
“Almighty God, strengthen and direct, we pray, the will of all whose work it is to write what many read, and to speak where many listen. May we be bold to confront evil and injustice: understanding and compassionate of human weakness; rejecting alike the half-truth which deceives, and the slanted word which corrupts.
May the power which is ours, for good or ill, always be used with honesty and courage, with respect and integrity, so that, when all here has been written, said and done, we may, unashamed, meet Thee face to face, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
–From Saint Bride’s Church, London
Prayer for Communications
Previous themes addressed in recent messages for World Communications Day have been
2012: Silence and Word: Path of Evangelisation
2011: Truth, proclamation and authenticity of life in the digital age
2010: The priest and pastoral ministry in a digital world: new media at the service of the Word
2009: New Technologies, New Relationships. Promoting a Culture of Respect, Dialogue and Friendship
2008: The Media: At the Crossroads between Self-Promotion and Service. Searching for the Truth in order to Share it with Others
2007: Children and the Media: a Challenge for Education.
2006: The Media: A Network for Communication, Communion and Cooperation