World Communications Day: What the Church has been Saying

 (1967-2021)

By Rev Fr Martin Anusi

The World Communications Day (WCD) is celebrated every year, since 1967, on Sunday before the Pentecost. It was the desire of the Second Vatican Council to see how the achievements of the communications media could best be used to promote gospel values. Thus, every year the Church invites and encourages all to reflect on the opportunities and challenges communications media offer us in the light of the gospel message and human development.

pope francis

Since its first celebration on Sunday, 7th May 1967, Pope Paul VI and his successors have continued uninterruptedly to invite and encourage us to reflect on this essential and evolving culture of our time.

In the first World Communications Day message in 1967, Pope Paul VI said inter alia:

“The Church too, wishes to make her own contribution to the orderly development of the world of social communications: a contribution of inspiration, encouragement, exhortation, guidance and cooperation” (emphasis mine). It is this primary focus of the Church that will enable us, first, to understand the diversity, breath and scope that have spanned the papal messages these years. Secondly, it will help us to evaluate our attitude to Communication media in our our pastoral plans and initiatives today.

Pope John Paul II

Sometimes it does seem that we pay more attention to criticism of the media rather than exploring and harnessing their values in bringing the gospel message to the world. It is of interest to note that the Church, ab initio, did not approach the media with fear but with hope. Today it does seem that we have inverted this orientation: fear rather than an opportunity to be explored and employed.

As we celebrate this 55th World Communications Day (WCD) we bring you the list of the Popes and their messages for the past 55 years (1967 to 2021).In these messages, we have a glimpse of what the church has been saying.

Pope Paul VI

1) 1967 Church and Social Communication: First World Communication Day

2) 1968 Social Communications and the Development of Nations

3) 1969 Social Communications and the Family

4) 1970 Social Communications and Youth

5) 1971 The role of Communications Media in promoting unity among men

6)            1972 The Media of Social Communications at the Service of Truth

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7) 1973 The Mass Media and the Affirmation and Promotion of Spiritual Values

8) 1974 Social Communications and Evangelization in Today’s World

9) 1975 The Mass Media and Reconciliation

10) 1976 Social Communications and the Fundamental Rights and Duties of Man

11) 1977 Advertising in the Mass Media: Benefits, Dangers, Responsibilities

12) 1978 The receiver in Social Communications: his expectations, his rights and his duties

Pope John Paul II

13) 1979 Social Communications: Protecting the Child and promoting his best interest in the family and in society

14) 1980 Social Communications and Family

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15) 1981 Social Communications and Responsible Human Freedom

16) 1982 Social Communications and the Problems of the Elderly

17) 1983 Social Communications and the Promotion of Peace

18) 1984 Social Communication: Instruments of Encounter Between Faith and Culture

19) 1985 Social Communications for a Christian Promotion of Youth

20) 1986 Social Communications and the Christian Formation of Public Opinion

21) 1987 Social Communications at the Service of Justice and Peace

22) 1988 Social Communications and the Promotion of Solidarity and Fraternity Between People and Nations

23) 1989 Religion in the Mass Media

24) 1990 The Christian message in a computer culture

25) 1991 The Communications media and the unity and progress of the human family

26) 1992 The proclamation of Christ’s Message in the Communications Media

27) 1993 Videocassettes and audiocassettes in the formation of culture and of conscience

28) 1994 Television and family: guidelines for good viewing

29) 1995 Cinema: communicator of culture and of values

30) 1996 The Media: Modern Forum for Promoting the Role of Women in Society

31) 1997 Communicating Jesus: The Way, the Truth and the Life

32) 1998 Sustained by the Spirit, communicate hope

33) 1999 Mass media: a friendly companion for those in search of the Father

34) 2000 Proclaiming Christ in the Media at the Dawn of the New Millennium

35) 2001 Preach from the housetops: The Gospel in the Age of Global Communication

36) 36 2002 Internet: A New Forum for Proclaiming the Gospel

37) 2003 The Communications Media at the Service of Authentic Peace in the Light of “Pacem in Terris”

38) 2004 The Media and the family: A Risk and a Richness

39)          2005 The Communications Media: At the Service of Understanding Among Peoples

Pope Benedict XVI

40) 2006 The Media: A Network for Communication, Communion and Cooperation

41) 2007 Children and the Media: A Challenge for Education

42) 2008 The Media: At the Crossroads between Self-Promotion and Service

43) 2009 New Technologies, New Relationships, Promoting a Culture of Respect, Dialogue and Friendship

44) 2010 The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in a Digital World: New Media at the Service of the Word

45) 2011 Truth, Proclamation and Authenticity of Life in the Digital Age

46) 2012 Silence and Word: Path of Evangelization

47) 2013 Social Networks: Portals of Truth and Faith; New Paces for Evangelization

Pope Francis

48) 2014 Communication at the Service of an Authentic Culture of Encounter

49) 2015 Communicating the Family: A Privileged Place of Encounter with the Gift of Love

50) 2016 Communication and Mercy: A Fruitful Encounter

51) 2017 Fear not, for I am with you (Is 43:5): Communicating Hope and Trust in our Time

52) 2018 “The truth will set you free” (Jn 8:32). Fake news and journalism for peace

53) 2019 “’We are members one of another’ (Eph 4:25). From social network communities to the human community”

54) 2020 “That you may tell your children and grandchildren” (Ex 10:2). Life becomes history.

55) 2021 “Come and See” (Jn 1:46). Communicating by Encountering People Where and as They Are

Rev. Fr Martin Añusi is the Director, Fides Media, Okpuno, Awka. (Fides is the Communications Directorate of the Catholic Diocese of Awka)

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