Pope: Silence key ingredient to meaninful communication

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Amid the deluge of information and nonstop chatter in today’s media, the church needs to help people find safe havens of silence, Pope Benedict XVI said.

Far from being the enemy of calm and quiet, social media and the Internet can lead people to virtual sanctuaries that offer silent reflection, thoughtful dialogue and true meaning in life, he said.

“Attention should be paid to the various types of websites, applications and social networks which can help people today to find time for reflection and authentic questioning, as well as making space for silence and occasions for prayer, meditation or sharing of the word of God,” he said in his message for the 2012 celebration of World Communications Day.

Even brief posts and viral tweets can carry potent messages when people use those tools — not for spamming or for scanning the latest gossip — but for sharing a real part of themselves, he said. “In concise phrases, often no longer than a verse from the Bible, profound thoughts can be communicated, as long as those taking part in the conversation do not neglect to cultivate their own inner lives,” he said.

The theme of this year’s World Communications Day — marked in most dioceses the Sunday before Pentecost, this year May 20 — is “Silence and Word: Path of Evangelization.” The papal message was released on the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron of writers, Jan. 24.

At a news conference on the message’s release, Archbishop Claudio Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, said there is a huge difference between a “semantic silence” that can be rich in or bolster meaning versus “keeping quiet” and ignoring the realty.

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