Pope says family is where people learn communication

Luisana Puocci and Elise Natale, 10, attend an Oct. 4 prayer vigil led by Pope Francis for the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. The pope called for "sincere, open and fraternal" debate during the two-week long synod, which opens Oct. 5. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Luisana Puocci and Elise Natale, 10, attend an Oct. 4 prayer vigil led by Pope Francis for the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. The pope called for “sincere, open and fraternal” debate during the two-week long synod, which opens Oct. 5. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Beginning with an unborn child’s relationship with his mother, the family is where members of the church and wider society learn the essential lessons of communication, Pope Francis said.

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Text of the pope’s World Communications Day message in English

Text of the pope’s World Communications Day message in Spanish

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Communicating the Family: a Privileged Place of Encounter With the Gift of Love” is the theme of this year’s World Communications Day, which most dioceses will mark May 17, the Sunday before Pentecost. The pope’s message for the day was released Jan. 23, vigil of the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of journalists.

“The womb which hosts us is the first ‘school’ of communication,” the pope writes. “This encounter between two persons, so intimately related while still distant from each other, an encounter so full of promise, is our first experience of communication. It is an experience which we all share, since each of us was born of a mother.”

After birth, “the family is where we learn to live with others despite our differences,” Pope Francis writes. “In the family we realize that others have preceded us, they made it possible for us to exist and, in our turn, to generate life and to do something good and beautiful. We can give because we have received. This virtuous circle is at the heart of the family’s ability to communicate among its members and with others. More generally, it is the model for all communication.”

Archbishop Claudio Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, center, shows Pope Francis news on a tablet during a meeting at the Vatican July 7. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters)
Archbishop Claudio Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, center, shows Pope Francis news on a tablet during a meeting at the Vatican July 7, 2014. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

In particular, the pope notes that the family is the “setting in which the most basic form of communication, which is prayer, is handed down.”

Because the “family is where we daily experience our own limits and those of others,” the pope writes, it is also a “school of forgiveness. Forgiveness is itself a process of communication. When contrition is expressed and accepted, it becomes possible to restore and rebuild the communication which broke down.”

Noting that this year’s World Communications Day falls between the October 2014 extraordinary Synod of Bishops and the world synod on the same topic planned for October 2015, Pope Francis seems to allude to some of the contentious issues of marriage and family that have characterized discussions inside and outside the synod hall.

The family “is not a subject of debate or a terrain for ideological skirmishes,” the pope writes. “We are not fighting to defend the past. Rather, with patience and trust, we are working to build a better future for the world in which we live.”

— By Francis X. Rocca, Catholic News Service.