‘Back to basics’ seems to be the ‘theme behind the theme’ for next year’s World Communications Day Message.

The Church’s World Communications Day Message is presented in, more or less, three stages each year.  The first stage — this one — is when the theme of the Message is released.  In the second stage, the message itself is made public. This happens on the 24th January, the Feast of St Francis de Sales who is the Patron Saint of Journalists (no coincidence here!).  Then the third stage, World Communications Day itself, takes place on the Sunday before Pentecost.  Next year, World Communications Day will be the 20th May.

Anyone who has been keeping an eye on the themes for World Communications Day — over the last 20 years or so in particular — will have seen a shift in emphasis from TV and Radio through to even more ‘modern means of communication.

The most recent Messages, for example, have dealt with Social Networking and the Facebook phenomenon (2011), and called on the young, in particular — but also priests (2010) — to evangelize what the Pope has dubbed the ‘Digital Continent’ (2009).

Interestingly, in parallel with this increasing emphasis on technological complexity in communications, as typified by social networking, there has also been an increasingly loud call to return to the Source of all Divine Communication, namely God Himself. In 2012, it would appear that this call has become so ‘loud’ as to arrive at silence! The theme for 2012 is Silence and Word: path of evangelisation.

In the heady days of Inter Mirifica and Vatican II, by contrast, the ‘down side’ of the ‘modern means of communications’ did not seem to be fully anticipated and the dangers of getting lost in ‘the cares of this life’ (Mark 4:19) and being ‘conformed to this world’ (Romans 12:2), perhaps, were not given the attention they deserved.

But last year’s call to ‘put on our best (and truest) face’ for Facebook, not allowing our true identities to be mangled and stretched by the workings of the ‘interweb’ is a reminder that the internet is, no less than other contexts, a part of the theatre of salvation, in which the Christian communicator must play out his or her passion, in order to enter into Glory.

It is appropriate, perhaps, then that this year’s Message should be about the role of silence in Communication. It is pre-eminently through silent prayer that the “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12) of Christ “fully reveals man to man himself” (Gaudium et Spes – Vatican II) .

‘Listen to God and allow others to hear Him, in silence’. How thought-provoking, challenging and truly counter-cultural is the Church’s understanding of 21st Century world communications!


The Pophet Elijah
The Prophet Elijah who heard the ‘still small voice’ of God

Did the Minister read the Vatican’s Cloyne reponse?
Re: Minister stands firm on abuse plans – Irish Times – Tue Sep 20, 2011

‘I hate to say this but…’ DID THE MINISTER READ THE LETTER?

Did Minister Frances Fitzgerald read the Holy See’s response to the Tanaiste, Eamonn Gilmore, regarding the Murphy Commission’s Report into child sexual abuse in Cloyne?In this Irish Times report by Patsy McGarry, out today, the Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald is quoted as saying that the Vatican had “not been comparing like with like.” “I don’t think it was a valid comparison,” she said. “We are in a different place now” to 1996 “with over 10 years’ experience of the guidelines”. (

see paragraph 3)But, surely, the comparison that the Vatican made was between a 1997 letter from Archbishop Luciano Storero (linked to Cardinal Hoyos) and the 1996 position of the then Fine Gael and Labour Coalition Government?

In a disturbing echo of the Taoiseach’s Cloyne error, the Minister, clearly, appears to be under the illusion that the Vatican was referring to some imaginary ‘letter of intervention’ from perhaps “as little as 3 years ago”, to quote the Taoiseach.
Can it be that the Minister for Children takes the issue of the abuse of children so lightly that she did not actually read the Vatican Response to her Government? Sadly, there is a poor appetite in the Irish media for holding the Government accountable for  its  failings with respect to child abuse!…..                                                …                                    ….

The Minister is also quoted as saying she is “very struck” by indications of increased sexualised behaviour among children.

Her comments are far from being premature and an acknowledgement of the problem should inform several areas of Government policy, including that of broadcasting.

The Family and Media Association first raised this issue of the sexualization of children over 4 years ago, as did CARI, the organization which the Minister is quoted as referring to in the present article.

Please read this FMA Newsflash and related links from July 2007 – Tue 20 Sep 2011

ROT Reporter/additional reporting The Evening Herod – Nazareth – 25 March 12:00

A sex scandal has rocked a normally sleepy town in the South Eastern part of the Union.  The town of Nazareth, one of a number noted for extreme religiousity, awoke today to find itself embroiled in what is increasingly looking like the latest abuse storm to hit the area known locally as Galilee.

A 14 year old girl lies at the centre of the scandal which is said to involve well respected figures in the local Church. The girl who is due to be married to a much older man from the town later this year was found to be pregnant under suspicious circumstances.

A spokesperson for the international peace keeping community stationed outside Nazareth has dismissed as groundless accusations that any of its employees might have been involved. The community which carries out essential upgrades to local infrastructures such as roads, is generally well respected in the area.

But evidence of a cover up involving the girl’s fiancée is now coming to light. The man, Joseph, a carpenter from the Region, who is known for his extreme religious beliefs, tried to hide the details of the pregnancy, it has emerged. When the attempted cover-up was uncovered,  he refused to make any comment to the media.

The pregnancy of a 14 year old girl has once again inevitably raised the issue of the lack of easy availabilty of abortion in the region. According to a spokesperson for Planned Population, the imposition of strict religious values in this area creates extreme and unacceptable hardships for women in general, and young girls in particular. “The considerable religious stigma of being unmarried and pregnant which still obtains in this part of the world, without having recourse to abortion, is a scandalous form of discrimination against women”,  she said. “It is also a  strain on the area’s resources as  population fueled poverty is now reaching epidemic levels. Usually when something like this happens, the girl is taken into the care of the local health services who arrange for a quick and easy abortion as the girl is not in a position to make a decision (or FIAT) for herself.”

“Promoting a greater understanding and appreciation of Christian values in the media…”

That’s the first aim of the Family and Media Association, FMA. But, what does it mean? Well, God is Truth, The Truth. Is it not the first duty of the media, then, to speak the truth, to speak it boldly, to shed light on the darkness? That’s the way it seems it should be to me, anyway.

However, all too often, the media seems to busy itself shoveling darkness where there is light rather than shining light where there is darkness. This is a kind of parody of its true identity. To quote Archbishop Diarmuid Martin when he spoke at a Family and Media Association conference — it was some years ago and in a slightly different context — “there is no truth (Pravda) in the news (Izvestia).”

Sometimes, it’s just a question of basic inaccuracy: for example, reporting that there were 100’s instead of 1,000’s at a pro-life rally. You would think that this kind of lie should be fairly easy to detect, but, in fact, it is used more often now as people become more and more dumbed down and well, indoctrinated, by ‘the media’ and what passes for our education system. Is it any surprise that employers should complain of highly qualified job applicants being all at sea when someone asks them to solve a problem.

Then there is the media’s version of a ‘sin of omission’: not reporting something that is news worthy. If a story falls in a forest and the media aren’t there to hear it, does it make a sound bite? No. If it’s not reported, it might as well not have happened. And if one side of the scéal is not seen, then it can look very lopsided indeed. Plenty of examples here…a pro abortion academic implies that a pro life pregnancy counselling agency is making “rogue” claims about the risks of abortion (to the mother, the risks to her child are almost 100% after all!) but there is no reference to the extranational Supreme Court that takes the claims so seriously, it insists on abortion ‘providers’ providing their victims with the information that the media here has tried so hard to discredit!

The sin of omission is difficult to spot.  Your only chance is to have been ‘in the forest’ when the story fell. Otherwise, you can’t check the facts because you don’t suspect there are any facts to check! “As all journalists know,” to quote Gene Kerrigan when talking about the “( media) Job done on Irish” for Lisbon, “what mattered was not frank opinion but what wasn’t reported and how material was skewed.”

If  all this weren’t bad enough, the worst thing is that if you were there to see the story fall and you tell people about it, you either won’t be believed because, well, the honest brokers that are the media establishment in Ireland would have reported it if it had happened and even if it did happen, well, it can’t have been a very important tree (certainly not the tree of the knowledge of good and evil!) if  (the honest brokers that are the media establishment in Ireland) didn’t report it. Heads you win, tails I lose!

Anyway, I think this is beginning to get a bit negative. That’s enough for a first day…