“The call to ‘come and see’ is the method for every authentic human communication,” says Pope Francis in his Message for the 55th World Communications Day. Source: Vatican Media.
The Vatican released the text of the Pope’s Message on Saturday, the eve of the feast of St Francis de Sales, the patron saint of journalists.
"This year," says Pope Francis, "I would like to devote this Message to the invitation to 'come and see', which can serve as an inspiration for all communication that strives to be clear and honest, in the press, on the internet, in the Church’s daily preaching and in political or social communication."
This theme recalls the Gospel account of the first disciples’ initial encounters with Jesus, who invited them to “Come and see,” to enter into relationship with Him. Later, one of those disciples, St Philip, speaking to his friend Nathaniel, invited him to “Come and see” the Messiah whom he had found.
“That is how Christian faith begins, and how it is communicated: as direct knowledge, born of experience, and not of hearsay," says Pope Francis. He explains that seeing something for oneself is the best way of getting at the truth of things.
In the message, Pope Francis is sharply critical of a tendency to reduce news to pre-packaged, self-referential soundbites, reflecting only the concerns and viewpoints of the “powers that be”.
This leads to a flow of information “created in newsrooms,” which does not accurately reflect reality on the ground. Rather, he says, we must instead “hit the streets,” in order to see things we otherwise would not know, share knowledge that would not otherwise circulate, and have encounters that would otherwise not take place.
Pope Francis also notes the importance of the internet, which he describes as “a powerful tool”, but he warns against “fake news”.
“All of us are responsible for the communications we make, for the information we share, for the control that we can exert over fake news by exposing it,” he says. “All of us are to be witnesses of the truth: to go, to see and to share.”
Pope Francis: Communicate by encountering people as they are (Vatican Media)