Sunday, November 19, 2006

Goa Archbishop's Communications Day Message - 2006

World Communications Day - Message by Archbishop of Goa and Daman, Filipe Neri Ferrao

PANJIM, Goa 19 November, 2006 (KC Blog): Following is the full text of the message of Most Rev. Filipe Neri Ferrao, Archbishop of Goa and Daman, for the World Communications Day on 19th November, 2006.

The Media: A Network for Communication, Communion and Cooperation

Pope Benedict XVI ends his Message for this year's World Communication Day with a poignant call: "Let us together break down the dividing walls of hostility and build up the communion of love according to the designs of the Creator made known through his Son." It is a good place to begin our reflection on Media as a Network of Communication, Communion and Cooperation, as we celebrate World Communication Day in our Archdiocese.

With the proliferation of information and communication technologies, we are experiencing a conflicting reality: on the one side, the world is coming together with a global sharing of information; on the other, we are fragmenting ourselves and being segmented into tribes brought together by some very narrow interests. While some walls are being broken down with the media of communication, we are erecting, with the help of newer media, newer walls, which create insularity, disconnect us with people around us and, sometimes, create downright hostility toward one another.

To build and live in a communion of love is a holy longing of every human being, regardless of his or her religion, creed or socio-economic status. It is a fundamental task every human finds himself or herself engaged in. We may approach it differently; we may have different understandings and expectations of this longing for communion; these differences, at times, could be even sources of tension and conflict; nonetheless, the desire to commune with the other is common to all.

Despite all its fanfare, the media of mass communication, particularly the electronic media, are of dubious value as vehicles of social communication. Not all mass communication produces or engenders a healthy social communication. St. Paul warns us: "Do not be deceived, for bad communicators ruin good morals" (1 Cor. 15:33). Healthy communication, then, is a product of a network of thoughtful and strategic cooperation, which can blossom into communities of communion.

It is an easy temptation to consider the mass media as the only vehicles of social communication. Communication is inherently about communion. Communication, by its nature, builds communities. But the communities that communication builds are not always and necessarily healthy and productive communities. A network of communication is used, very often, to establish "communities," which engage in nefarious activities. To build a communion of love, and communities of compassion and understanding, it demands from us that we develop networks of thoughtful and genuine communication.

In a pluralistic society such as ours in Goa and India, building networks of communication leading to communion through cooperation is a special task we must commit ourselves to. The call for such a task is urgent. While we demand from the professionals in mass and electronic media that they be "the protagonists of truth and the promoters of the peace" (cf. Pope's Message, No. 3), we, individual consumers of the media, must take greater responsibility to establish networks of human communication, built with cooperation across social and religious barriers; this kind of social communication will build a fruitful communion of communities. In fact, the multi-centennial and rich tradition of the Village 'Comunidade' in Goa has served us so well to live in harmony with one another, by making use of its unique network of cooperation, communication and communion. And we should be proud we had this legacy, which, unfortunately today, has lost much of its community-orientedness.

The new media of communication, particularly the mobile telephones and the internet, have the potential to be vehicles of a productive network of cooperative communication, which can bring about communion at the service of a civilization of love.

For us, Christians, communication is a means to holiness. The Church, by virtue of being the People of God (1 Pet. 2:10), lives in perennial communication as the Mystical Body of Christ, bound to establish networks of communion through cooperation. "Do not neglect to do good and to communicate with each other, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God" (Heb. 13:16).

The media of mass communication provide us bits of information, albeit not always helpful, which in turn should stir us to seek further information and knowledge of one another and to find ways of cooperating to build bridges of understanding, compassion and mutual service, thus enabling us to “break down the walls of hostility and build up the communion of love according to the designs of the Creator.”

Archbishop's House, Panjim, Goa, October 24, 2006.
(+ Filipe Neri Ferrao)
Archbishop of Goa and Daman

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