Performers at the SIGNIS World Congress 2022, taking place in Seoul, South Korea Performers at the SIGNIS World Congress 2022, taking place in Seoul, South Korea 

Catholic media practitioners immersed in South Korean culture

The SIGNIS World Congress 2022 officially opened on Tuesday in Seoul, South Korea. Prefect of the Dicastery for Communication, Dr Paolo Ruffini, officially flagged off the four-day global gathering by reading a message of Pope Francis meant for all Catholic communicators.

By Paul Samasumo

SIGNIS, the World Catholic Association for Communication professionals, is holding the SIGNIS World Congress in Seoul, Korea for the first time in a hybrid format, that is, with about 100 Catholic media practitioners of 32 different nationalities attending in person, while other participants are following and interacting in the new virtual digital media, metaverse as well as on Zoom and YouTube.

The overall theme of the Congress is “Peace in the digital world.”

Listen to Fr Paul Samasumo's report

Day one was a set aside for cultural immersion into Korean society, food, and visits to some key sites, especially those connected to peace and conflict resolution.

The SIGNIS Catholic media professionals spent time learning about the impact of the continuing divide between the two Koreas - North and South. We learnt that to this day, there are millions of South Korean families still reeling from the separation between North and South Korea. It is a painful and difficult discussion that touches many families here.

Participants visited the Odusan Unification Observatory. It is an educational site that gives a glimpse into life in North Korea.

On the other hand, the Catholic Peace and Unity Centre, which delegates also visited, is dedicated to promoting and praying for reconciliation between North and South Korea.

Ruffini: Building a better world through communication

On the sidelines of the Congress, Dr Paolo Ruffini, the Prefect of the Vatican's Dicastery for Communication, said the opening events offered participants the opportunity "to gather together and exchange and share thoughts on the future of the digital world and how to build peace in this our world [that is] so divided."

The initial meetings also demonstrated the importance of SIGNIS and of having a vision for the future, he said.

Dr Ruffini said that participants were concerned to find a way for communication to unite people without technology becoming overwhelming. To be linked in communication, he said, "means to build a better world, peace, hope; and to combat the loneliness of our times, despite the problems we have."

Dr Paolo Ruffini reflects on Day 1 of the Congress
17 August 2022, 11:30