The Pope’s World Communications Day message focuses on storytelling, truth and who we are in God’s eyes.
Pope Francis has devoted his message for the 54th World Communications Day to the theme of storytelling, and in particular the truth contained in ‘good’ stories.
“Often we decide what is right or wrong based on characters and stories we have made our own,” he writes. “Stories leave their mark on us; they shape our convictions and our behaviour. They can help us understand and communicate who we are.”
Positive storytelling is upheld for its life-giving value but the Pope warns of sophisticated and persuasive forms of “fake” stories – cautioning against a materialistic mindset. He decries the false message that “to be happy we continually need to gain, possess and consume”.
He writes: “We may not even realise how greedy we have become for chatter and gossip, or how much violence and falsehood we are consuming. Often on communication platforms, instead of constructive stories which serve to strengthen social ties and the cultural fabric, we find destructive and provocative stories that wear down and break the fragile threads binding us together as a society.”
Appropriately as we’re in the early months of our year-long Bible initiative The God Who Speaks, the focus falls on Sacred Scripture as the ‘Story of stories’. Pope Francis describes the Bible as “the great love story between God and humanity” with Jesus at its centre. The Book of Exodus is the inspiration for the theme of the message:
“When the enslaved children of Israel cry out to Him, God listens and remembers: ‘God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel – and God knew’ (Ex 2: 24-25). God’s memory brings liberation from oppression through a series of signs and wonders… The Exodus experience teaches us that knowledge of the Lord is handed down from generation to generation mainly by telling the story of how he continues to make himself present. The God of life communicates with us through the story of life.”
Pope Francis stresses that every human story has an “irrepressible” dignity and that humanity “deserves stories that are worthy of it”. He also encourages us to open ourselves to others as something that goes hand-in-hand with opening ourselves to God:
“Telling God our story is never useless: even if the record of events remains the same, the meaning and perspective are always changing. To tell our story to the Lord is to enter into his gaze of compassionate love for us and for others. We can recount to him the stories we live, bringing to him the people and the situations that fill our lives. With him we can re-weave the fabric of life, darning its rips and tears.”
Pope Francis concludes by encouraging us to remember “who and what we are in God’s eyes” and invites us to entrust ourselves to the Virgin Mary “who knew how to untie the knots of life with the gentle strength of love.”
As is customary, the Pope has released his message on the Feast of St Francis de Sales – the patron saint of writers and journalists. The day itself is celebrated on Sunday, 24 May 2020.
You can download the full message for the 54th World Communications Day here.