The choice of theme this years has clearly been determined by the Celebration of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, and the Holy Father undoubtedly desired that World Communications Day would provide the appropriate occasion to reflect on the deep synergy between communication and mercy.
In the Bull of Indiction of the Jubilee Year, in paragraph 12, the Pope affirms that: The Church is commissioned to announce the mercy of God, the beating heart of the Gospel, which in its own way must penetrate the heart and mind of every person. He adds: Her language and her gestures must transmit mercy, so as to touch the hearts of all people and inspire them once more to find the road that leads to the Father. It is helpful, in this regard, to remember that our reflection is situated in the context of an awareness that communication is a key element for the promotion of a culture of encounter.
The Pope, on this occasion, refers to the language and gestures of the Church but the context makes it clear that all men and women in their own communications, in their reaching out to meet others, ought to be motivated by a deep expression of welcome, availability and forgiveness.
The Theme highlights the capacity of good communication to open up a space for dialogue, mutual understanding and reconciliation, thereby allowing fruitful human encounters to flourish. At a time when our attention is often drawn to the polarized and judgmental nature of much commentary on the social networks, the theme invokes the power of words and gestures to overcome misunderstandings, to heal memories and to build peace and harmony.
Once again, Pope Francis is reminding us that, in its essence, communication is a profoundly human achievement. Good communication is never merely the product of the latest or most developed technology, but is realized within the context of a deep interpersonal relationship. World Communications Day, the only worldwide celebration called for by the Second Vatican Council (“Inter Mirifica”, 1963), is marked in most countries, on the recommendation of the bishops of the world, on the Sunday before Pentecost (in 2016, May 8th).
The Holy Father’s message for World Communications Day is traditionally published in conjunction with the Memorial of St. Francis de Sales, patron of writers (January 24).