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Pope's theme for World Communications Day focuses on sharing hope


By Cindy Wooten

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In a world where so much bad news can anesthetize people or lead them to despair, the media cannot and should not ignore "good news" stories, stories which Christians see as a reflection of the greater news that God is a loving father, a Vatican office said.

For World Communications Day 2017, Pope Francis has chosen the theme: "'Fear not, for I am with you.' Communicating hope and trust in our time."

The Vatican announced the theme Sept. 26. Most dioceses will mark World Communications Day May 28, the Sunday before Pentecost. The full message was expected to be released, Jan. 24, the feast of St. Francis de Sales, the patron saint of journalists.

The words from the Book of Isaiah, "Fear not, for I am with you," are words believers hear whispered in the midst of the world's tumult, said a statement from the Vatican Secretariat for Communications explaining the theme.

The words encourage people to search for and identify the ways God is working in the world, the statement said.

Often, the statement said, media "professionals, opinion leaders and means of communication" are based in affluent areas, "distant from the places of poverty and need." Their physical location too often translates into ignorance of the complexities of the lives of most women and men today.

"The anesthetization of conscience or letting despair get the better of us are two possible 'diseases' that our current communication system can cause," the statement said. It often appears that communications media are used as part of "a genuine strategy" for creating fear.

But, the statement said, "we Christians have 'good news' to tell because we contemplate trustfully the prospect of the kingdom" of God.

The pope's choice of a theme, the secretariat wrote, "is an invitation to tell the story of the world and the stories of men and women in accordance with the logic of the 'good news' that reminds us that God never ceases to be a father" to all people and in all situations. "Let us learn to communicate trust and hope for history."