As the last phase of the Synod on the future of the Church is to be held in a little less than a month, on September 23 in Rome, Pope Francis has asked for the help of journalists to report on this immense site, in all its complexity.
“Leave aside slogans and ready-made stories”
“Help me tell this process for what it really is, leaving aside the logic of slogans and ready-made stories”, invoked the bishop of Rome, who then denounced “disinformation” and false news, which “attempts to shape public opinion”.
This drift would be, according to Francis, “the first sin of journalism”. “Disinformation is one of the four sins of journalism: disinformation, when a journalist does not inform or informs badly; slander (sometimes used); defamation, which is different from slander but destroys; and the fourth is the love for scandal”, he detailed in front of the delegation of an Italian journalism prize.
Pope Francis regularly addresses communicators and journalists, insisting that they exercise a great responsibility in the education of future generations. In June 2023, François had called on journalists to “wear out the soles of their shoes” or to walk the “digital” streets, always listening to the people they meet. The notebook and the pen, he explained, “are just props” if they “miss a glance at reality. A real look, not just a virtual one”.
Telling “the bad” and knowing how to recognize the good
Aware of the difficulty of exercising a profession where dramas must be reported, without creating despair, the pope assured him in 2020: “Even when we recount evil, we can learn to leave space for redemption, we can also recognize, in the midst of evil, the dynamism of good and make room for it” (1).
While the Church is currently divided over which path to take to remain audible to the world, the media narrative around the Synod on Synodality is indeed proving important for the Catholic Church. Decision-making methods, the place of women, migrants, homosexuals, cultural traditions, climate change, training of priests… The Synod on synodality has taken up since 2022 a considerable number of subjects, often sensitive for the ecclesial institution.
The Vatican draws, through the themes chosen or the way of asking its questions, the vision of a Church more attentive to the base, where the question of the margins is omnipresent. We distinguish an institution made up of believers, called to play a more active role, and which must rethink the way it announces its message to the contemporary world.