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Communicate with the Heart: Vatican’s Communication Head tells Bishops

By Anthony G. Roman
In a technology-driven world, the Church must communicate with the heart and not solely through communication media. With the capacity for love and communion, humans should direct technologies, AI or artificial intelligence included. Love, after all, is the basis of happiness and not the algorithms which drive technology.

The Prefect of the Holy See’s Dicastery for Communication Dr Paolo Ruffini was addressing a group of Asian bishops present at the FABC-OSC-led “Bishops’ Institute for Social Communication” or BISCOM, April 16 in Bangkok. Thirteen bishops from four Asian countries are participating in the five-day program.

Delivering his talk via zoom from Rome, the Prefect said “Evangelization is not dependent on media; the “secret of communication is not technique but love.”

We need lessons from Asia about “communion” which thrives on communication, Ruffini said. Communication builds on communion, and communion flourishes because of communication, he added.

He urged the Bishops to consider returning to the roots of communication which in Latin is “mun” or togetherness and “munus” or gift. Like Christ’s communication, “our communication must be marked by self-giving and not self-satisfaction prevalent in business and marketing,” the Prefect pointed out.

Asian Bishops participating in the Bishops’ Institute for Social Communication (BISCOM) 2024 held at Camillian Pastoral Care Center, Bangkok, Thailand, April 15th-19th.

Long before the advent of social media networks, the “Church is a network” so in planning, we must embrace the digital culture with the intention of evangelising the world and strengthening communion among all peoples. The world of the “digital,” however, is not distinct from the physical world, Ruffini observed.

Today, “everything is digital.” The digital is like a culture which the Gospel of Christ should permeate, he said. The digital culture is always changing and as Church, “we must evangelize it with love, communion, and social justice.”

We are all “digital missionaries, called to be disciples in the environment where are — parish, school, and even social media,” Ruffini stressed.

The Prefect also said that in evangelization, we are not selling a product. Rather, we are like the apostle John, sharing “what we have seen and heard” so that people “may have fellowship with us” (1 Jn 1:3).

Ruffini recalled Pope John Paul II’s words that the history of Church communication “is like a journey from mutual misunderstanding to the Pentecost” event, which is unitive, never divisive. As John Paul II pointed out, “a simple act of love” in communication resonates and is “far more important than a show of ostentation.”

The “Spirit of Pentecost always unites, and never divides,” Ruffini emphasised.

The pandemic has proven that people are never satisfied communicating digitally. As Church, we must be at the fore creating “happy and safe places of communion” for all sectors, not just the youth, he added.

BISCOM is a flagship program of FABC-OSC, or the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences – Office of Social Communication organised to offer Bishops in FABC animation and updating on social communication to enhance their pastoral ministry. The 2024 BISCOM  held in Bangkok, April 15-20, is the 9th such program and has for its theme: Synodal Church: Episcopal Ministry and Communication.

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