POPE FRANCIS urged media practitioners to engage in attentive listening and fair reporting in his message for the 56th World Communications Day.

“In order to provide solid, balanced, and complete information, it is necessary to listen for a long time [because] there is no good journalism without the ability to listen,” the Pope said.

“Listening to several voices, listening to each other, even in the Church, among brothers and sisters, allows us to exercise the art of discernment,” he added.

The Pope’s message was released on Jan. 24, the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of journalists.

Pope Francis also urged Catholics to do away with “eavesdropping and spying” and instead pursue a “fair, confident and honest” form of listening.

“Good communication, instead, does not try to impress the public with a soundbite, with the aim of ridiculing the other person, but pays attention to the reasons of the other person and tries to grasp the complexity of reality,” he said.

The Pope also warned journalists against the “infodemic” on migrants due to the lack of transparent and credible information.

“[T]o overcome prejudices about migrants and to melt the hardness of our hearts, we should try to listen to their stories,” the Pope said.

“Give each of them a name and a story [so]  we would have before our eyes not numbers, not dangerous invaders, but the faces and stories, gazes, expectations and sufferings of real men and women to listen to,” he added.

With the theme “Listening with the ear of the heart,” Pope Francis emphasized the importance of listening in human communication despite the people’s gradual inability to listen to one another.

Echoing the younger apostle James, the Pope stressed that “freely giving” one’s time is the “first act of charity.”

“It is only by paying attention to whom we listen, to what we listen, and to how we listen that we can grow in the art of communicating,” Pope Francis said.

This year, World Communications Day will be celebrated on May 29, Ascension Sunday.

World Communications Day was established by Pope Paul VI in 1967 to recognize the importance of social communication in proclaiming the gospel. Christine Joyce A. Paras with reports from Ma. Alena O. Castillo


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