The president of SIGNIS urged the world’s bishops as the “chief storyteller” in their diocese to use all media at their disposal to “make known” stories “of faith and hope” and of local Catholic heroes who exemplify Christ’s love to give people courage in “difficult times,” like this current pandemic.
Catholic media outlets also can provide “basic tools” to the faithful “to spot” false stories, such the narratives about the “Chinese” virus causing the pandemic and rumours of “dangerous fake cures,” said Helen Osman, who heads SIGNIS, the World Catholic Association for Communication, based in Brussels. She made the comments in a statement issued ahead of World Communications Day, which is celebrated this Sunday (24th May).
Pope Francis’ message for this year’s World Communications Day is: “That you may tell your children and grandchildren” (Ex 10:2): Life becomes history.”
The pope “reminds us of the importance of the stories we tell, especially in the midst of the din of media that leave us feeling dislocated,” Osman said. “The narratives that we live by must reflect the vision of the interconnectedness of all human life.”
She continued, “The pope reminds us that the Holy Spirit writes the story of God’s love on the human heart.”
“Many of the stories that relate to the experience of people today are told in secular media, printed and otherwise. In some cultures, the role of traditional storytellers serves the same role,” Osman said. “In all cases, their power derives from their affirmation of deeper truths of the human condition, especially the enduring strength of love.”
“How do you offer guidance to your people to see and reflect on the truth where it may be found in the media, arts, and in local traditions, perhaps in places they may not expect it?” she asked the bishops.
Osman acknowledged many dioceses already have “robust plans to celebrate World Communications Day,” but hoped the questions she raised “may further enhance these initiatives.”
She said SIGNIS has resources at its website to help with diocesan celebrations, www.signis.net, and also urged bishops to look at how their diocese might collaborate with local organisations and educational institutions that foster media literacy.
These organisations “share with the Church the desire to embrace the truth that sets us free,” Osman added.
Photo: Reporters raise their hands to ask questions during a news conference after a session of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon at the Vatican last October. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)