To mark World Communications Day (WCD) on Ascension Sunday, which falls on 29 May, Pope Francis’ communications message this year addresses the theme of listening with the ear of the heart. The Holy Father is inviting all of us to reflect on how listening – which is both sincere and deep – can have a profound and positive affect on every part of our lives, in our interaction with others, and on how we pray.
Speaking ahead of this year’s WCD, Archbishop Eamon Martin, Chair of the Irish Bishops’ Council for Communications, said, “In his message for World Communications Day 2022, Pope Francis is encouraging all people of goodwill to listen attentively to everyone we engage with. In doing so we are expressing, not just a mark of sincere respect for the dignity of the other, but in doing so we are also laying the foundation stone of genuine relationships, which in turn is foundational to the relationship between God and humanity.
“It is in all our interests to note Pope Francis’ concern that many people ‘are quickly losing the ability to listen to one another, while at the same time listening is undergoing new developments, especially due to new forms of communicating.’
Renewal of the Church
“As the Catholic Church in Ireland, and around the world, continues on our journey of faith and spiritual renewal, it is also timely that Pope Francis highlights the importance of listening in the context of this local and universal synodal process. In his message, Pope Francis says,
‘The most important task in pastoral activity is the ‘apostolate of the ear’ – to listen before speaking, as the Apostle James exhorts, ‘Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak’ (1:19). Freely giving some of our own time to listen to people is the first act of charity.’”
Archbishop Martin concluded, “I wish to take this opportunity to offer my prayerful support and gratitude to all those who have participated in local parish-based listening, discussion and prayer gatherings which have been taking place across the island as part of the Church’s ‘Synodal Pathway’ process. Our National Pre-Synodal Assembly, to take place on 18 June in Clonmacnoise, will be greatly enriched by the fruits of these meetings which represent the initial listening stage of the Irish Synodal Pathway. I invite everyone to listen with their hearts to the World Communications Day message of Pope Francis as it informs our journey on the Synodal Pathway.”
History of World Communications Day
The World Day of Social Communications is the only World Day established by the Second Vatican Council. In 1963 the Council issued the Decree on the tools of social communication, Inter mirifica, which included the proposal that the Church celebrate a day dedicated to social communications. The first World Communications Day was observed on 7 May 1967, under the pontificate of Saint Pope Paul VI, who drew attention to the communications media and its enormous potential for cultural transformation.
- Whilst the text of the World Communications Day message is published each year on 24 January, the Feast of Saint Francis de Sales, the patron saint of journalists and editors, WCD is celebrated annually on the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, which in 2022 falls on Sunday 29 May. Message themes from recent years include:
- Social Networks: portals of truth and faith; new spaces for evangelization (2013)
- Communication at the Service of an Authentic Culture of Encounter (2014)
- Communicating the Family: A Privileged Place of Encounter with the Gift of Love (2015)
- Communication and Mercy: A Fruitful Encounter (2016)
- Fear not, for I am with you (Is 43:5): Communicating Hope and Trust in our Time (2017)
- The truth will set you free (Jn 8:32). Fake news and journalism for peace (2018)
- We are members one of another (Eph 4:25) From social network communities to the human community (2019)
- “That you may tell your children and grandchildren” (Ex 10:2) Life becomes history” (2020)
- Come and See” (Jn 1:46). Communicating by Encountering People Where and as They Are.” (2021)
Resources for World Communications Day
Resources for World Communications Day 2022, including the text of the Pope’s message, are available on www.catholicbishops.ie. For more on the Universal Synod and the Synodal Pathway Ireland see www.synod.va and www.synod.ie.