On Sunday, May 17, the Church in Australia celebrated World Communications Day. It is observed a week earlier in Australia because of our liturgical transfer of the Feast of the Ascension from Thursday to what is elsewhere the Seventh Sunday of Easter.
Pope Francis’ message for the 54th World Communications Day 2020, which was released in January, focuses on the topic of storytelling. The Pope's message can be read here.
Bishop Paul's message on World Communication Day can be read below:
World Communications Day
In the Church calendar for Australia, Sunday, May 17, was World Communications Day. This is an annual celebration, dating back to 1967. Shortly before that, the Second Vatican Council had encouraged us as a Church community to engage with the world around us. One of the documents from the Council began with these words: “The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the people of our time, especially of those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these too are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ.” (The Church in the Modern World, paragraph 1)
Following the Council, Pope Paul VI established World Communications Day, recognising that the media provided many avenues by with the Church could engage with society. In those days, the media included newspapers and magazines, radio, television and movies. Since then we have added the internet and the many kinds of social media. So, nowadays, we have even more forms of communication to choose from.
For this year’s World Communications Day, Pope Francis has highlighted the role of stories. “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.” He goes on to say, “Human beings are storytellers. From childhood we hunger for stories just as we hunger for food. Stories influence our lives. Often we decide what is right or wrong based on characters and stories we have made our own.”
Our Christian faith is founded on the true story of God’s love, reflected in the books of the Bible. As Pope Francis says, “The Bible is the great love story between God and humanity. At its centre stands Jesus, whose own story brings to fulfilment both God’s love for us and our love for God.”
I hope this year’s World Communications Day encourages us to make good use of the many means of communication we have. Through them we can share stories of people who inspire us. We can also share the story of God’s great love.
Bishop Paul Bird