Three Takeaways from the Pope’s World Day of Communications Message

May 5, 2022  •   LPi

people reaching out to touch the pope

Listen.

Pope Francis tackles the theme of listening in his message for the 56th World Day of Social Communications, promulgated on Jan. 24, 2022, the memorial of St. Francis de Sales. It sounds so simple in theory, doesn’t it — listening? But, as with so many aspects of Christian life, the practice of effectively listening is anything but simple.

To truly communicate, the Holy Father tells us, we must “listen with the ear of the heart” (which also happens to be the title of his message). Here are three important takeaways from the document, which can be viewed in its entirety on the Vatican’s website.

In listening, we mimic God.

“Listening corresponds to the humble style of God,” writes Pope Francis, who points out it is through speaking that God brings us into existence and through listening that He honors us as “partners in dialogue.” This action of listening emphasizes both the dignity endowed on us by our Creator and the selflessness with which He loves us. Even though God’s Word is salvation, He does not talk over us. If the God of the Universe can treat us with such reverence, can we not do the same for one another?

“The Lord explicitly calls the human person to a covenant of love, so that they can fully become what they are: the image and likeness of God in His capacity to listen, to welcome, to give space to others,” writes the Holy Father. “Fundamentally, listening is a dimension of love.”

In listening, we mimic God.

Listening — really listening — requires self-mastery. It requires sacrifice. And it requires patience, writes Pope Francis. All of this leads to a fruitfulness of virtue and knowledge. If we really listen with patience, he writes, we allow ourselves “to be surprised by the truth, even if only a fragment of truth, in the person we are listening to.”

Without that, we are simply hearing, not listening. “Only amazement enables knowledge,” he concludes.

Not listening? Not passive.

“The refusal to listen often ends up turning into aggression towards the other, as happened to those listening to the deacon Stephen who, covering their ears, all turned on him at once,” writes Pope Francis. It’s a message that rings especially true in the midst of a world so sharply divided over so many issues. Because “the true seat of listening is the heart,” closing our ears to someone is often the same as closing our hearts to them, and that is always the first step toward violence. Even worse, it will lead to a deterioration in the relationship between the listener and God. “Whoever does not know how to listen to his brother or sister will soon no longer be able to listen to God either,” writes the Holy Father.

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