Some 300 Catholic communicators from many countries met at the Sanctuary of Lourdes (France) from 24 to 26 January to experience the 22nd International Days of Saint Francis de Sales. It was the first time the event was open to international participation.
The meeting, organized by the Catholic Media Federation (FMC), the Secretariat for Communications of the Holy See and SIGNIS, was on the theme “Media and Truth”. Malta was represented by the Archbishop’s Delegate for Media, Kevin Papagiorcopulo.
These days of exchanges, reflections and learning were mainly centered around the message of Pope Francis for the 52nd World Communications Day, which will take place on May 13, on the theme: “The truth will make you free. Fake News and journalism for peace”.
The meeting began with a visit of the Sanctuary of Lourdes, following step by step the story of Saint Bernadette de Soubirous, who in 1858, at the age of 14, saw several apparitions of the Virgin Mary.
The Bishop of Tarbes and Lourdes, Mgr Nicolás Brouwet as well as the president of the FMC, Jean-Marie Montel; SIGNIS President Helen Osman; and the Prefect of the Secretariat for Communication of the Holy See, Mgr Dario Viganó then opened the conference. Mgr Dario Viganó, explained the most important points of the message of Pope Francis to communicators, announced Wednesday, January 24 on the occasion of the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron of communicators and Catholic journalists.
Several round tables were organized during the conference: ” Truth’s multiple facets”, ” The splendour of truth”, or ” The uses of truth”.
During her presentation, Helen Osman pointed out that Fake News was not a recent phenomenon, unlike social networks. She also talked about why people no longer believe in the media and said that one of the reasons is that they see journalists as “the other”. She then spoke about how some of the information disseminated by Catholic journalists in the United States had become apologetic, defending the faith and not interested in the reality of people’s everyday lives: “How are we interested in the needs and hopes of our local religious communities? How can our readers, listeners or viewers trust us? (…)” Finally, she emphasized that she was encouraged by the message of the Holy Father on the occasion of the 52nd World Communications Day, in which he challenged Catholic journalists to remember that the heart of their work is the human person.
The closing Mass was celebrated by Cardinal Pietro Parolín, Secretary of State of the Holy See. During his homily, the cardinal recalled the mission of journalists, which is not a profession similar to others, but involves a great commitment. “Their role is complex, but fundamental for a free and pluralistic society.”