Society must recognise the, “valuable work that journalists undertake and their contribution to the common good,” Bishop Denis Brennan of Ferns said in a statement issued to mark the Feast of St Francis de Sales, the Patron Saint of journalists.
Bishop Brennan made his comments in a statement he issued with Bishop John McAreavey of Dromore as co-chairs of the Council for Communications of the Irish Bishops' Conference to welcome the release of Pope Benedict’s 2012 message for World Day of Social Communications.
The theme for this year’s Communications Day message is, Silence and Word: Path of Evangelisation.
The 45th World Day of Social Communications will be celebrated on Sunday May 20, the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord and the Sunday before the Solemnity of Pentecost.
The text of Pope Benedict’s message is issued annually to coincide with the Feast of St Francis de Sales.
Commenting on the newly released papal message, Bishop McAreavey said, “For Catholics the human person is at the core of all our communications each day.”
He said the theme chosen by Pope Benedict reminded us that behind all of the technology surrounding us on a daily basis are human beings who are constantly searching for answers to life’s questions.
“The Holy Father reminds us of the importance and value of silence and says, ‘if we are to recognise and focus upon the truly important questions, then silence is a precious commodity that enables us to exercise proper discernment in the face of the surcharge of stimuli and data that we receive’.”
Welcoming the Pope's message, Bishop Denis Brennan noted that World Communications Day is the only worldwide celebration called for by the Second Vatican Council.
In his message, Pope Benedict shares a number of reflections on aspects of the human process of communication, which he suggests, are often overlooked, namely the relationship between silence and word.
These two aspects of communication need to be kept in balance, to alternate and to be integrated with one another, the Pontiff suggests, if authentic dialogue and deep closeness between people are to be achieved.
“When word and silence become mutually exclusive, communication breaks down, either because it gives rise to confusion or because, on the contrary, it creates an atmosphere of coldness; when they complement one another, however, communication acquires value and meaning”, the Pope comments in his message.
Learning to communicate is learning to listen and contemplate as well as to speak the Pope underlines.
This, he says, is especially important for those engaged in the task of evangelisation: both silence and word are essential elements, integral to the Church’s work of communication for the sake of a renewed proclamation of Christ in today’s world.
He suggests that attention should be paid to the various types of websites, applications and social networks that can help people to find time for reflection and authentic questioning, as well as making space for silence and occasions for prayer, meditation or sharing of the word of God.
Drawing from a private prayer at the Holy House in Loreto (September 1 2007) the Pontiff urges the faithful to look to Mary whose silence "listens to the Word and causes it to blossom.”
Previous themes addressed by Pope Benedict in his messages for World Communications Day have been, The Media: A Network for Communication, Communion and Cooperation (2006); Children and the Media: a Challenge for Education (2007); The Media: At the Crossroads between Self-Promotion and Service. Searching for the Truth in order to Share it with Others (2008); New Technologies, New Relationships. Promoting a Culture of Respect, Dialogue and Friendship (2009); The priest and pastoral ministry in a digital world: new media at the service of the Word (2010), and; Truth, proclamation and authenticity of life in the digital age (2011).