Pope Francis: “Listening, a challenging phenomenon”

Luckston De Silva

The Holy Father, Pope Francis has chosen ‘Listen with the ear of the heart’ as the theme for the 56th World Communication Day of 2022. According to him, we are losing the ability to listen to others in our day today life. So, “Listening” has become a challenging phenomenon to an educator or a formator, parents and teachers, pastors and pastoral workers, communication professionals and people who carry out social service and political service. He emphasized the quality of listening, which he said “is decisive in the grammar of communication and is a condition for genuine dialogue.”

Listening with the heart

The title of this year’s message, “Listening with the ear of the heart,” invites us to reflect that listening involves more than simply the sense of hearing. True listening is a foundation of genuine relationships, and is foundational to the relationship between God and humanity.

The Pope, quoting St Paul, noted that “faith comes through hearing.” In fact, he remarked, “listening corresponds to the humble style of God,” who reveals Himself by speaking, and by listening to men and women recognizes them as His partners in dialogue. Human beings are called in turn to “tune in, to be willing to listen,” as God calls them to a covenant of love. Fundamentally, the Pope said, “listening is a dimension of love.”

A condition of good communication

In many relationships, however, true communication is lacking, as dialogues end up as competing monologues, where the two sides refuse to listen to one another. This is evident nowadays even in public life, the Pope said, where people often end up “talking past” one another.

Pope Francis insisted, however, that “listening is the first indispensable ingredient of dialogue and good communication.” Without listening, he said, there is no good journalism; journalists need to listen to many voices in order to ensure the “reliability and seriousness” of the information they transmit. For Him, ‘Listening’ allows people to exercise the art of discernment, the ability “to orient ourselves in a symphony of voices.”

Listening in the Church

There is also “a great need to listen to and hear one another” in the Church and He further adds “Freely giving of our own time to listen to people is the first act of charity.”

He points to the ongoing synodal process, asking for prayers “that it will be a great opportunity to listen to one another.” Comparing communion in the Church to a choir, the Pope says “unity does not require uniformity, monotony, but the plurality and variety of voices, polyphony.” He continues, “At the same time, each voice in the choir sings while listening to the other voices, and in relation to the harmony of the whole.”

The Holy Father concludes, “With the awareness that we participate in a communion that precedes and includes us, we can rediscover a symphonic Church, in which each person is able to sing with his or her own voice, welcoming the voices of others as a gift to manifest the harmony of the whole that the Holy Spirit composes.”

The Vatican Press announced the theme on September 29, on the Feast of the Archangels and the full text of the Pope’s message was issued on January 24, the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of journalists.

Normally, the World Communication Day is celebrated on the feast of Ascension Sunday every year and this year 2022, it falls on May 29. However, local churches are free to choose any other day to observe the event. The World Communications Day is the only world level celebration established by the Vatican II, and has been continually observed since 1967. The message of the Pope sets the agenda for reflections and a variety of activities across the world throughout the year. The 2022 World Day will be the 56th, and the 9th during the pontificate of Pope Francis.