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Communicate with the heart, Vatican Prefect told Bishops

By Anthony G. Roman

In a technology-driven world, the Church must communicate with the heart and not 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 algorithm which drives technology.

This highlights Paolo Rufini’s address to Bishops present at the FABC-OSC-led “Bishops’ Institute for Social Communication” or BISCOM.

The Prefect of the Holy See’s Dicastery for Communication delivered his talk via Zoom from Rome. He 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, Rufini said. Communication builds on communion, and communion flourishes because of communication, he added.

He told 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 said.

Long before the advent of social media networks, the “Church is a network” so in planning, we must form “digital missionaries.” The world of the “digital,” however, is not distinct from the physical world, Rufini said.

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,” Rufini 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).

Rufini recalls Pope now Saint John Paul II saying that the history of Church communication “is like a journey from mutual misunderstanding to (the) Pentecost” event, which is unitive, never divisive. The “Spirit of Pentecost always unites, and never divides,” Rufini said.

He also recalls the late Pope saying that “a simple act of love” in communication resonates and is “far more important than a show of ostentation.”

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.

BISCOM is a flagship program of FABC-OSC, or the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences – Office of Social Communication.

It aims to contribute to the ongoing formation of Bishops and bishops’ conference personnel in the area of social communication. This year’s five-day BISCOM tackles the theme of communication and synodality.

The Camilian Center in Lat Krabang, Bangkok hosts the April 15-20 event.


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