By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
On the Feast of St Joseph the Worker, Pope Francis met with members of the staff of Avvenire and their families. It was 50 years ago in December that the daily newspaper, managed by the Italian Conference of Bishops, was founded.
St Joseph model for communicators
Pope Francis proposed St Joseph as the model for Catholic communicators. He did admit that Joseph might seem to be the “antithesis of the communicator” because he was a “man of silence”. The Pope understands that Joseph’s ability to listen, to entrust himself to God’s dream, and to get up in the middle of the night allowed him to “realize God’s promises”.
Joseph: icon of our holy people
Joseph can teach us how to regain a “sense of healthy slowness”, and “to be open to another’s words and story”, the Pope continued. Joseph used both his heart and his legs in his obedient response to the dream God had given him. Thus, he “is the icon of our holy people who recognize that their point of reference is God, who embraces all of life with a unifying meaning”.
Referring to the paper’s emergence 50 years ago, Pope Francis reminded the paper’s present staff that it was not easy for the paper to get off the ground. “How much perplexity and resistance, how much diffidence and contrary opinions sought to halt the will of Paul VI regarding the birth of a daily national Catholic periodical”, he said.
The Pope acknowledged the transformations Avvenire has had to undergo as a result of the change in communications technologies. It is precisely in this area that “the Church does not want its voice to be lacking”. Faithful to its mission, the Church announces the Gospel of Mercy; and the media offers an enormous potential to contribute to the culture of encounter, he said.
Communicators the Church needs
Pope Francis reminded his audience what Paul VI said of Catholic journalists. They are not called to publish fanfare in order to gain readers, but to do good by listening, and educating readers to think and evaluate. He encouraged his listeners to be tireless in their search for the truth, starting with the habitual reading of the Gospel. “Let this be the editorial line binding your integrity…. You will then have light in order to discern, and words of truth to explain what is happening so as to call it by name”.
The Pope concluded expressing his desire that “you too express a Church which does not look on reality from the outside, or from above, but which gets down into it, mixes with it, inhabits it and—by virtue of the service you offer—rouses and expands everyone’s hope”.