Cardinal Advincula urges the media to become partners in social transformation

“If we want to communicate truthfully and meaningfully, we have to “come and see.” We need to encounter people where they are and as they are.”

This was what Manila Archbishop Jose F. Cardinal Advincula emphasized as he reminded the members of the media in its role as partners of social transformation and how it is relevant to the Universal Church’s mission of promoting synodality.

Speaking before the nominees and guests at the 44th Catholic Mass Media Awards (CMMA) last November 23, Cardinal Advincula explained the theme of this year’s ceremonies – “Come and See” (Jn 1:46). Communicating by Encountering People Where and as They Are – which is taken from the Holy Father’s message for the World Communications Day.

“This statement invites us to get out of our ivory towers and fortresses, open our doors, and meet one another as fellow travelers on the same road heading towards the same destination. This is the basic idea of synodality that we often hear nowadays. Synodality is walking or journeying together. But we cannot journey together if we have no interest at all in meeting one another. We cannot delegate “encounter”, nor can we assign authentic human relationships to representatives. We cannot rely on hearsay or gossip,” he said.

“The Holy Father Pope Francis advises us to go back to the basic grammar of communication and the fundamental condition for a genuine dialogue: listening. Listening entails empathy and honest concern for others not as targets of attitude change but as partners for social transformation. Mass communication is at the service of human promotion and not of dehumanization or desacralization of the human person. Mass media’s role is to seek the facts that lead to objective truth, not my subjective truth that bends the facts,” the archbishop added.

Cardinal Advincula also addressed the grave challenges of the utilization of media tools and platforms which destroy the very purpose of communications to our society.

“The temptation for some mass media practitioners or even for some social media influencers is to hide behind analytics, algorithm and the anonymity provided by their platforms. The primary aim is to gain attention and profit at the expense of truth and humanity. Persons with names and dignity are often sacrificed at the altar of views and likes. Precious relationships are forfeited for money and fame. This is not communication. This is commodification. It is unfortunate that this practice seems to be the downward spiral that dominates the media today,” he said.

Cardinal Advincula cited Canadian academic Marshall McLuhan’s celebrated quote “The medium is the message” to analyze the current condition of the world’s media landscape.

“Putting this in our present-day context, many of us still think that we are the social and mass media users when in fact we have long been owned and possessed by the AI and the digital systems and structures that have been ruling our lives, often to the point of self-destruction and social extinction. The medium is the message. The digital disruption, not its content, is our most serious concern. We must listen to Mr. McLuhan,” he stressed.

The Archbishop of Manila challenged all media practitioners to make the “sense of fraternity and solidarity, a vision of peace and harmony, a dream of a shared future and destiny” into reality “one day at a time, one message at a time”. (Lem Leal Santiago/Volunteer Writer – Sto. Nino de Pandacan Parish | Photogallery)



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