By Tony C. Diaz
U Matuna Si Yu’os
The power of the press includes the power to depress. Or to uplift and inspire …
As the Church across the globe marks February as Catholic Press Month, it presents a wonderful opportunity for all of us to reflect, have dialogue and exchange ideas on how Christ calls each of us to use the gift of communication.
As a Catholic who is ever struggling to grow in my faith, I understand that the learning – and teaching – process is an ongoing thing. I think all of us would acknowledge that.
As a Catholic who has been blessed to work and serve in the field of mass communication for a good number of years, I am keenly aware that in this area too, we have much to learn, much to share. For the rest of February our weekly archdiocesan newspaper will carry stories and reflections, locally and nationally, discussing aspects of the Catholic press and Catholic communication.
It’s not something entirely new. Regular readers of U Matuna (The Pacific Voice in the past) as well as church-goers are somewhat familiar with observance of World Communication Day led by our different popes through the years and the local celebration known as Catholic Communication Month gel each year in May/June.
During those periods, we have typically presented the pope’s and our archbishop’s annual communication messages, along with other related features. The role of Catholic media in our church today, both in the Archdiocese of Agaña and across the globe, cannot be over-emphasized.
Media shapes hearts and minds… and yes, most definitely, souls. Our beloved Holy Fathers – from Blessed John Paul to Pope Benedict and now Pope Francis- have stressed the impact that media and technology have in our lives in each of their annual World Communication Day messages.
We need not go far for basic guidelines we as a have been given regarding how to communicate with one another through the press or otherwise. Christ is the model, Christ provides the template. How we communicate with one another, bet it with words spoken directly to one another, thoughts written down on paper or words and images zipping across the vast expanse of space and time through the Internet, we are called to do so in the spirit of Christ.
In other words, with the same love that Christ shows each of us. Here are a few simple nuggets of wisdom that have helped to guide me in my 12-plus years of being involved in our Catholic newspaper, Catholic radio and television. I wish I had been blessed with these much earlier in my other careers – and other lives – in the local media industry: “People need to be treated individually as persons, in the knowledge that Christ shed all his Precious Blood for each of them.” – Pope John Paul II, 1995.
“Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed. Each of us is loved. Each of us is necessary.” – Pope Benedict XVI in his inauguration Mass homily, April 24, 2005. “Communication is really about realizing that we are all human beings, children of God. I like seeing this power of communication as “neighbourliness” – Pope Francis’ message for 48th World Communication Day.
“All communication has a moral dimension. As the Lord himself has said, it is from the abundance of the heart that the month speaks.” – Pope John Paul II’s Message, 2004 World Communications Day, quoting Matthew 12:34-35.
These are but a few of the words echoing our Lord’s teachings that have served to remind me that when I communicate, the person(s) with whom I am communication – like me – is a child of Christ. That other person or persons to whom we are communicating whether it involves a hotly-contested issue, debate or conflict – that person is a human being created by Our Lord. Thus, all respect and love is due to all creations of Our Father.