"Open Communications, Not Closed Doors" – Pope Francis 12/16/14
First, let us give thanks and praise to our Lord Jesus Christ, who died that we might live. We wait in joyful hope for the innocent child who will redirect the course of history. Happy Advent to all!
They say that timing is everything, and this past week was for me a reminder of that adage. Last Wednesday started with anticipation, and ended with the realization that my participation in a newly formed organization could result in censure. That means the total stripping of my faculties to carry out my ministry of service as a deacon. My day ended deep into the night, prayerfully asking the Holy Spirit for guidance and courage in a decision I had to make. I cannot discuss the details, but that event is not yet over. However, it is not the central point to this writing. It is how our Church is constantly working to bring people to God through effective communications.
As usual, after morning prayers I read the PDN and then the Pope app on my phone. Pope Francis is a down to earth guy, and seems to connect to all people. It is easy to see the face of Jesus in this man, a holy figure who really cares for the poor, the disenfranchised, and the disheartened. The words he spoke to the Catholic press corps of Italy on the morning of December 16 seemed as if they were spoken by the Vicar of Christ directly to me as well. Pope Francis emphasized that “courageous frankness and freedom are the characteristics of the authentic communicator, and of Catholic communications especially.” You really have to admire a man that reacts to criticism by asking, “please, tell me more!”
We often see individuals, sometimes even very public leaders, who react to criticism in a different way. They try to drown out a dissenting voice. Spin doctors tell half-truths or outright lies to mislead the public. Some leaders try to squash the very existence of a dissenter. Perhaps worst of all is a leader who confronts questions of their policy with arrogant silence. So the Pope’s words were very significant when in my own particular situation I benefitted by hearing it from the Holy Father’s perspective.
Pope Francis went on to remind our Church leaders, “To open, and not to close,…” channels of dialogue “is the second task of the communicator.” We live in a world today where information is available almost immediately, and secrets are rarely successfully kept secret. Perhaps for old time communicators this information is startling or uncomfortable, where people can judge our actions almost before we can judge them ourselves. But the Pope’s message to the Italian Catholic press was clear…if you are confused at my actions, or disagree with my decision please come to me so we can talk about it like good Christian adults should. Succinct. Straightforward. Christian. Thank you Pope Francis for reminding us how Jesus taught us to resolve problems. Open and honest discussion actually works, and I hope more people give truth and dialogue a chance.
And by the way. In case you haven’t heard, there is a new group on Guam that also believes in open dialogue. They recently formed Concerned Catholics of Guam to try and help our local Church. The Articles of Incorporation state that the “primary purpose of the Corporation is to defend, … promote, … and develop the Catholic Faith…” These are lofty goals for an organization. These are ideals I have proudly affixed my name to. Let us pray for their success, and let us look to their example of communication as a way to solve our problems.
May the Baby Jesus bless and protect us all.
Deacon Steve Martinez