The Universal Church commemorates World Communication Day on the Sunday before Pentecost (7th Sunday of Easter) every year. It was established by Pope Paul VI in 1967 to reflect on how social communication - the press, motion pictures, radio, television and the internet - enriches human lives with its values and challenges.
This weekend (29 May 2022) we celebrate the 56th World Communications Day. The Holy Father, Pope Francis has chosen a single word “Listen!” as the theme for this occasion. In every “dialogue, relationship and search for truth in life,” we need to learn and relearn to listen again - “listening with the ear of the heart.”
Listening is essential in our “human relationships”, “communication” and for “information”. Pope Francis asserts that “listening is a dimension of love” and we must always tune in to listening to God. True communication comes from listening - “Listening to several voices, listening to others, listening to the communities and listening to the Church” which leads to the art of discernment. The quality of listening is measured when we “pay attention to whom we listen, to what we listen, and to how we listen.”
Through numerous verses in the scripture, we learn that listening means not only perception of sound but is also a “dialogical relationship between God and humanity.” God continuously speaks to us and invites us to respond by listening to Him. St Paul affirms that “faith comes through listening,” (cf. Rom 10:17). King Solomon was wise because he asked God only one thing to grant him – a “listening heart,” (cf; 1 Kgs 3:9) and whereas St Augustine strongly encouraged us to receive the Word of God by “listening with the heart.”
Another kind of listening, which is the opposite - eavesdropping – means, listening secretly to a conversation, spying on or exploiting others for our own interests. Healthy communication comes in listening to the person face-to-face and approaching with fair, confident and honest openness. There are also a lot of people sharing fake news on social media platforms, and this needs to be avoided. A good journalist or individual should provide “solid, balanced and complete information” in reporting.
Listening to and hearing one another are the most precious gifts we can offer each other. The Protestant theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “if we don’t know how to listen to our brother or sister, we will soon no longer be able to listen to God either.” The first act of charity is freely giving our time to listen to others, as St James the Apostle reminds us, “Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak,” (James 1:19).
We pray that all people will discover and rediscover listening and discerning as essential for good communication and give their best of themselves in the Divine plan of God.
(An Extract from the message of the Holy Father for the 56th World Communication Day 2022).