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(Ricardo Alvarenga*). Every year since 1967, the Catholic Church has dedicated a day to celebrate and reflect about communication. The date was created during the Second Vatican Council as a concrete gesture by the institution on its way to communication. During these more than fifty years of celebration, the popes have annually written special messages on this topic.
Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis were the pontiffs who published messages on the celebrations of the World Day of Social Communications. The reading and reflection of 56 letters written so far provide a unique opportunity to understand the development of Catholic thought on the subject.
In his writings, Pope Francis has rescued aspects that refer to the genesis of the communicative process, which is based in the human relationship. On several occasions, he highlighted that despite the greatness and relevance of information and communication technologies, their purpose should be to promote the relationship, the proximity between people, being a means and not an end.
“The social web use is complementary to the meeting in flesh and blood, lived through the body, heart, eyes, contemplation and breathing of the other. If the network is used as an extension or expectation of such an encounter, then it does not betray itself and remains a resource for communion”, Francis said in 2019, in his message on the occasion of the 53rd World Communications Day.
For the year 2022, in which the date will be celebrated on May 29, the reflection proposed by the Pope is linked to the pedagogy of listening, and the chosen theme iwas “Listening with the ear of Heart”. This is not the first time that Francisco has addressed the issue of listening. In 2016, when writing about the relationship between communication and mercy, Francis recalled that it is essential to listen to communicate.
“Communicating means sharing, and sharing requires listening, welcoming. Listening is much more than listening: Listening concerns the scope of information; listening instead refers to the scope of communication and requires closeness. Listening allows us to assume the right attitude, leaving the peaceful condition of spectators, users, consumers” reminded the Pope.
The line of reflection proposed by Pope Francis is very close to the discussion promoted by the French sociologist Dominique Wolton; for both information and communication are not the same thing. The fact is that communication is more complex than information, for them communication is the relationship, hence its complexity and thus information must be understood as a message.
“The problem is no longer just about information, but above all about the conditions necessary for millions of people to communicate or, better still, manage to live together in a world where everyone sees everything and knows everything, but the untold differences make it even more communication and tolerance are difficult” explains Wolton in his work “Informing is not Communicating” (2009).
That is why listening must be understood closely, because as Pope Francis said in his 2022 message, after going and seeing “to discover reality and be able to narrate it from the experiences of events and from meeting with people”, it is necessary to listen. A true call to rediscover the primary vocation of communication is to promote communion, dialogue and interaction.
Just as God could incline his ear to listen to his people, communicators must strive to produce content that considers the diverse voices that echo from our realities. It is necessary to exercise listening with humility and with the ears of heart. After all, there are many ways to communicate and only those who have their eyes and ears truly open will be able to see and hear.
Authentic Catholic communication must be dialogic and open, because it is in listening to the other, in sharing their experiences and experiences that a communication that transforms is made. “You cannot communicate with pride. The only key that opens the door to communication is humility. Or at least a partial attitude of humility”, highlights Franciso in the book O Futuro da Fé (2018).
It is necessary to rethink our communication, taking it back here to make it good and human, listening to the other, meeting the other, face-to-face dialogue. Pope Francis invites communicators to go beyond the traditional place of communication, of just recording institutional events, it is time to make a communication committed to people, with the change of reality, looking and listening to the other.
“Good communication does not seek to hold the public's attention with a cheesy joke aimed at ridiculing the interlocutor, but to pay attention to the other's reasons and to understand the complexity of reality”, declared the Pope.
Eduardo Galeano once wrote: “the first condition to change reality is to know it”. Therefore, to build a more just and fraternal society, it is necessary to set out to meet the other, to listen to the different voices and fearlessly amplify them through our means of communication. It takes boldness to listen and courage to announce.
* Doctor in Social Communication, journalist, coordinator of Signis Brasil Jovem and member of the Reflection Group on Communication of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil. firstname.lastname@example.org