This is an important weekend in Rome. Pope Francis Friday welcomed U.S. Vice President Mike Pence to the Vatican. The vice president also met with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, secretary of State. As I prepare this column, the Vatican has not yet issued a statement on that audience. Another event for Pope Francis: he will celebrate vespers tomorrow, Saturday, January 25, feast of St. Paul, in St. Paul’s Outside the Walls basilica as is traditional at the end of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity that starts on January 18.
Below you will find Pope Francis’ Message for this year’s World Day of Social Communications. I know you will enjoy reading it and am sure that, on many points, you will be nodding your head in agreement or giving a thumbs up at certain observations he makes.
When asked what I do, I have often told people that I am a storyteller (he speaks of this throughout) and can relate to so many points he makes. I hope you enjoy the Message.
VATICAN INSIDER: ABP. NAUMANN, POPE FRANCIS AND PROTECTING THE UNBORN
I am excited to tell you about my guest in the interview segment of Vatican Insider, a conversation you absolutely will not want to miss! And here’s why: As you know today, Friday, January 24 is the 47th March for Life in Washington DC and for the first time ever a sitting U.S. president, Donald Trump, addresses participants! He is a president who, in many ways, has done much to protect life, especially the unborn, and to protect religious freedom.
And my guest this weekend has done a great deal for the protection of the unborn – Abp. Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas who heads the USCCB’s ProLife committee. He tells us about his 3-hour visit last week, with other US bishops, with Pope Francis and the discussion they had on prolife issues and, in particular, what the Pope called “the pre-eminent issue” for the faithful, that is, protecting the unborn!
Photos taken last week during Mass at St. Paul’s Outside the Walls.
This is especially important on this weekend when we mark the March for Life! So tune in for sure!
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POPE’S MESSAGE FOR WORLD DAY OF SOCIAL COMMUNICATION
Pope Francis released his annual message for the World Day of Social Communication, a reflection on the Biblical text Exodus 10:2: “That you may tell your children and grandchildren.” This Message is traditionally published on the January 24 feast day of the patron saint of journalists, Francis de Sales.
“That you may tell your children and grandchildren” (Ex 10:2)
Life becomes history
I would like to devote this year’s Message to the theme of storytelling, because I believe that, so as not to lose our bearings, we need to make our own the truth contained in good stories. Stories that build up, not tear down; stories that help us rediscover our roots and the strength needed to move forward together. Amid the cacophony of voices and messages that surround us, we need a human story that can speak of ourselves and of the beauty all around us. A narrative that can regard our world and its happenings with a tender gaze. A narrative that can tell us that we are part of a living and interconnected tapestry. A narrative that can reveal the interweaving of the threads which connect us to one another.
1. Weaving stories
Human beings are storytellers. From childhood we hunger for stories just as we hunger for food. Stories influence our lives, whether in the form of fairy tales, novels, films, songs, news, even if we do not always realize it. Often we decide what is right or wrong based on characters and stories we have made our own. Stories leave their mark on us; they shape our convictions and our behaviour. They can help us understand and communicate who we are.
We are not just the only beings who need clothing to cover our vulnerability (cf. Gen 3: 21); we are also the only ones who need to be “clothed” with stories to protect our lives. We weave not only clothing, but also stories: indeed, the human capacity to “weave” (Latin texere) gives us not only the word textile but also text. The stories of different ages all have a common “loom”: the thread of their narrative involves “heroes”, including everyday heroes, who in following a dream confront difficult situations and combat evil, driven by a force that makes them courageous, the force of love. By immersing ourselves in stories, we can find reasons to heroically face the challenges of life.
Human beings are storytellers because we are engaged in a process of constant growth, discovering ourselves and becoming enriched in the tapestry of the days of our life. Yet since the very beginning, our story has been threatened: evil snakes its way through history.
2. Not all stories are good stories
“When you eat of it … you will be like God” (cf. Gen 3:4): the temptation of the serpent introduces into the fabric of history a knot difficult to undo. “If you possess, you will become, you will achieve…” This is the message whispered by those who even today use storytelling for purposes of exploitation. How many stories serve to lull us, convincing us that to be happy we continually need to gain, possess and consume. We may not even realize 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. By patching together bits of unverified information, repeating banal and deceptively persuasive arguments, sending strident and hateful messages, we do not help to weave human history, but instead strip others of their dignity.
But whereas the stories employed for exploitation and power have a short lifespan, a good story can transcend the confines of space and time. Centuries later, it remains timely, for it nourishes life.
In an age when falsification is increasingly sophisticated, reaching exponential levels (as in deepfake), we need wisdom to be able to welcome and create beautiful, true and good stories. We need courage to reject false and evil stories. We need patience and discernment to rediscover stories that help us not to lose the thread amid today’s many troubles. We need stories that reveal who we truly are, also in the untold heroism of everyday life.
TO READ THE FULL MESSAGE IN ENGLISH: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2020-01/message-world-day-communication-life-history.html