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Let’s communicate, cooperate, collaborate

Bishop Burchell McPherson of Montego Bay, Jamaica poses for a selfie with a visitor to St Peter’s Square, Rome during the AEC’s recent ad limina visit. More photos on the AEC’s Facebook page.

AEC statement for World Communications Day

In their message for World Communications Day 2018 (WCD), the bishops of the Antilles Episcopal Conference (AEC) believe today’s observance provides an opportunity to reflect on communication issues and brings attention once more to the worthy profession of journalism made so by the “most wonderful” of gifts, communication.

The statement which had as its theme New Wine, New Wineskins said that the spawn of fake news, aided to a great extent by the pervasiveness of social media and the dumbing down of the gatekeeper role that has been a feature of traditional media, demands a restating of the high ideals of journalism in our time.

The AEC bishops made reference to Pope Francis’ WCD message to the issue of truth and rediscovering the dignity of journalism and the personal responsibility of journalists to communicate the truth.  They believed the key to arriving at the truth we seek today must be “an appreciation of the sacredness of communication”.

The crux of the statement highlighted three essentials for WCD—communication, co-operation and collaboration.

Communication the bishops recognised is as important for human existence as it is for the life of the Church. “We can even say the Church is communication. The Church’s two-fold mission of gathering and sending forth requires communication. The Pastoral Letter, New Ways of Being Church in a Digital Milieu (AEC 2017) begins by stating, “Good News to the poor is the mission and goal of all pastoral communications” (#1). Additionally, the statement noted, circumstances will urge one to start anew and it will be necessary then to resist settling for the comfortable, to dare and to take risk.

For effective cooperation, Church communicators need to listen to the other voices in the Caribbean culture that speak with “a sense of the Infinite”. “This means that as Church, the function of educating our people in appreciating the symbolic forms of communication, in interpreting them and making use of them in catechesis will always be an important one.”

The bishops’ WCD statement said a Church that understands participation, fellowship and association as critical to communication will necessarily speak the language of collaboration. Collaboration, they said, can only begin when groups or individuals recognise they have something in common.

“It is built on the foundations of communication and cooperation. There is no collaboration without communication and cooperation. Collaboration among a people of faith requires that they see one another as gift and be willing to engage in the mission they see as worth staking their lives on. For that reason only those in communion, those sharing a common language of faith, can truly collaborate.”

Ultimately, the AEC bishops agree in challenging times like the present, times also of great paradox and mystery, the “arid landscape” can be touched by a sweet grace that causes spectacular flowers to bloom because communication is of God himself.

The full statement is available on the AEC’s website, and their Facebook page.