Paolo Ruffini, the prefect of the Dicastery for Communication, speaks to the Eastern Africa Bishops, inviting them to collaborate for better communication in order to promote a global ecological citizenship.
By Benedict Mayaki, SJ
The Prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communication, Dr. Paolo Ruffini, has upheld the importance of communication in caring for the environment in a message to the Bishops of the Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) as they hold their 20th plenary assembly in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, from 10 – 18 July.
Addressing the bishops, Ruffini traced an analogy between caring for our common home and communication, noting that they “are based on communion, on relationships, on our connectedness to each other and to everything.”
He said that “to be together and feel how true is that we are members of one another is the best way to build our communication and also implement the vision of the encyclical letter, Laudato si’.”
Communication: what do we share
Ruffini underlined that communication has the task of reminding us to highlight the intrinsic links between human destiny and the environment “in order to generate accountable citizens and true stewards on the planet, and not only consumers.”
In this light, he continued, communication can help spread ecological ethics and contribute to the flourishing of a global ecological citizenship through the production, collection, sharing of news, good practices, experiences, wisdom of peoples, among others.
The importance of the media
Reflecting on the work of Dicastery for Communication where he serves as the prefect, Ruffini stressed the role of the media in our common mission, drawing inspiration from Laudato si’:
“Media can stop people from learning how to live wisely, to think deeply and to love generously… Efforts need to be made to help these media become sources of new cultural progress for humanity and not a threat to our deepest riches” (LS 47)
Collaboration with Vatican Radio/ Media
“Radio is a very powerful media, which for most of the countries in Africa still plays a very important role,” Ruffini said.
In this regard, he noted the bishops’ efforts in communication at all levels, especially in the synodal process, noting that after the First African Synod of 1994, the AMECEA region responded with an unprecedented flourishing of Catholic radio stations so that they too could also re-transmit the daily bulletins of Vatican Radio.
Ruffini went on to highlight the work of Vatican Radio which, over the last 70 years, has had dedicated daily broadcasts in English, French, Portuguese, KiSwahili, Tigrinya, Amharic and even in Somali languages.
Through these daily broadcasts to Africa, Ruffini noted that people are “assured of daily, up-to-date, verified news about the Holy Father and about the various work of the dicasteries of the Holy See and the Church in the world.”
All these nonetheless, Ruffini suggested that “we can enhance our communion” as communication is not a one-way process.
He assured the bishops that Vatican Radio, and all of Vatican Media, is at their service also in order to tell their stories. To achieve this, he invited everyone to work together so that the radio can speak more African languages and share with the world, the happenings in the dioceses and how “Africa can help the world to become a better world.”
“Through the radio, through the web, through social media we can build a system with the mission of spreading the word of truth, based on the experience of Pentecost interwoven with the spirit of sharing – instead of that of Babel.”
Suggesting practical ways, Ruffini encouraged the bishops to embed Vatican Radio’s widget in their websites in order to have access to all information. He also recommended that the bishops appoint volunteer collaborators that can be relied upon as correspondents to send regular and reliable news.
“Unity is strength, division is weakness,” said Ruffini, citing an African proverb.
Linking the Dicastery of communication with local churches
Ruffini noted that the most difficult task for any media is “to build a relational system capable of collecting, organizing, networking, communicating, sharing the good, and the beauty of the truth.”
Yet, “we can do it. In all the languages, in the world,” he assured, stressing the importance of the link between the Dicastery for Communication and the local Churches.
He further noted that every believer has to allow the message travel from one person to another because it is “beautiful because it is true, beautiful because it is personally experienced, beautiful because it tells of the beauty of God.”
What makes communication effective?
Communication is not a superstructure, neither is it just a craft, affirmed Ruffini. Rather, it is “the truth of a true relationship; where each one knows he can count on the other.”
He pointed at interconnectedness, our awareness of our limitations and of being servants, grace and the Spirit that acts in spite of us, as factors that make us strong. In contrast, thinking we can do everything alone, and the illusion of power are the things that weaken us.
“The communication we seek comes from here” he says. “It is by this, that we can be recognized – Fratelli tutti.”