ROME — The role of a news service operated by a bishops’ conference is to promote a “communion of information,” sending news out to dioceses and sharing their news as well, Pope Francis said.
In a message Oct. 29 marking the 30th anniversary of SIR, the news agency of the Italian bishops’ conference, Francis said it is important that diocesan newspapers and all Catholics have news about the Vatican, the Church in their country, the Church on the continent, the Middle East and “the whole world.”
Noting how the Catholic celebration of World Communications Day 2019 will have the theme, “‘We are members one of another’: From network community to human communities,” the pope praised SIR’s efforts to build “an informative community based on authenticity and reciprocity.”
Francis praised the agency for sticking to its founding goals of objectivity, precision and “attention to the causes and implications of religious events” rather than on choosing stories “to satisfy the curiosity of the moment.”
“Continue to exercise your profession by always holding to the truth,” the pope said. “It is the most effective antidote to fighting falsity. And remember that ‘to discern the truth, we need to discern everything that encourages communion and promotes goodness from whatever instead tends to isolate, divide and oppose,'” he said, quoting from his message for World Communications Day 2018.
Catholic news agencies and newspapers, he said, also should be “a voice for those who do not have one.”
And, he said, “in the excitement of the news and in the whirlwind of scoops, remember that the center of the news is not about the velocity with which it is relayed or the impact it has on audience size, but people. To inform is to form.”
Francis also asked the Catholic journalists to be ready always to listen to others and to have discussions with them so that the truth can emerge and their work can “build bridges of understanding and dialogue.”