ROME — Catholic media are called to break through ideological barriers and help believers get to know the faith and struggles of their brothers and sisters around the world, Pope Francis said.
“In a world where communications have apparently shortened distances,” he said, “ideological border controls have multiplied,” keeping the voices, the faith and the stories of many people out of the mainstream media.
Meeting Oct. 13 with the staff of “Mondo e Missione,” the 150-year-old magazine of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, Pope Francis said the challenge is to go to communities ignored by most of the world and share with readers “the beauty and richness of differences, but also the many distortions and injustices of societies that are increasingly interconnected and at the same time marked by heavy inequalities.”
“The magazine was born in response to a need of God’s people: so many wanted to read the stories of missionaries — heroic — to feel close to them and their work, to accompany them with prayer,” the pope said. But they also wanted “to learn about countries and cultures in a different way from what was common then, which was steeped in a colonial mentality.”
The readers 150 years ago tried to look at the world “with a Christian gaze, respectful and attentive to the ‘seeds’ of truth and good scattered throughout the world,” he said.
In fact, the pope said, when missionaries go to those far-off lands, “it often happens that they discover that the Holy Spirit arrived before they did. The one who left home to evangelize finds himself or herself receiving the good news.”
And when one encounters the joy of the Gospel alive in a community, one should not keep it to oneself, the pope said. Sharing it with others helps revive their faith as well, which is another function of Catholic media.
The magazine and the missionaries’ other media and social media allow them to share the voice of those who, in the eyes of the world, “do not have the right to speak or are not heard: the poorest, the oppressed minorities, the victims of forgotten wars.”
“This I want to emphasize: the forgotten wars. Today we are all concerned, and it is good that we are, about a war here in Europe, at Europe’s door, but for years there have been wars — for more than 10 years in Syria, think of Yemen, think of Myanmar, think of Africa,” he said. They do not garner the attention they deserve and that is “a shame.”