His Eminence Jose F. Cardinal Advincula, D.D.
Archbishop of Manila & CMMA Honorary Chairman
The 45th Catholic Mass Media Awards
November 23, 2023, at the Citystate Tower Hotel – Manila
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
On the 45th edition of The Catholic Mass Media Awards let us reflect on the theme, “Speaking With the Heart the Truth in Love.” This is the core message of Pope Francis for the 57th World Day of Social Communications this year. To speak with the heart is to speak the truth in love. As media practitioners, you are categorically required to gather and broadcast the truth and not fake news or lies. But you must do so always in charity and in love. This does not mean sugarcoating or manipulating the facts to suit one’s narrative. This means that we try to “look at one another with compassion, welcoming our mutual frailties with respect rather than judging by hearsay and sowing discord and division.”
We are living in a world inundated with suspicion and lack of trust in one another. Everybody has something to say against everybody. In social media, it is done for the views and for virality. In the big networks, for-profit and for what sells. Since we know from psychology that negative news is more appetizing than the positive ones, we focus more on the former than on the stories that are not so controversial. I have personally witnessed this in the recent Synod I attended in Rome. The participants inside the Synod knew the truth of the situation involving some Synod participants. But the media had a different version of it and focused more on the angle that could elicit more reactions and comments. Personally, I was wondering how some media practitioners can write a very different version of the truth of a story. It also made me ask, “How do they gather their information and who will make the ultimate decision for the final form of their story? Is it the truth or some hidden interest? If truth-seeking and truth-telling are already difficult, how much more the communication of truth motivated by love and compassion?
For the past 45 years, the CMMA has tried to encourage all media practitioners to produce truthful, inspiring, and moving contents for the benefit of media consumers. By giving awards to worthy projects and endeavors, CMMA has tried to do its part in pushing for a transformative and positive mass media landscape. But awards and rewards can only do so much. The mass media community must do its part in advocating for a fair, honest and diligent delivery of their messages. We are grateful for the technological advances in the mass and mediated communication platforms. Thanks to the digital media, most of us are given a chance to express our voices and create our own contents. Information is no longer the monopoly of the so-called gatekeepers of knowledge and propaganda. The downside, however, is the glaring and utter disregard for the truth and even basic human respect. Freedom of expression has become synonymous with a license to dehumanize and demonize the other. We must not allow ourselves to go down this path. The call of Pope Francis for communicating cordially or speaking with the heart is timely and necessary. He says: “Communicating in a cordial manner means that those who read or listen to us are led to welcome our participation in the joys, fears, hopes and suffering of the men and women of our time.” Cordial communication does not refer to superficial small talks but to the messages from and for the heart that pierce the soul in the dynamics of human encounters. Communicating with the heart enables us to reach out to one another despite our defenses and excuses.
Says Dan Burke, a Catholic author and evangelizer: “Love builds a bridge of which truth can pass.” Mass media practitioners are not asked to compromise the truth. You are being asked to be more human and hopefully Christian in the way you present your narratives and stories. Behind every screen, behind every keyboard is a human being who must not renounce his or her humanity whenever he or she hits the “enter” or the “send” button. When there is love and charity in the human heart, communicating the truth will not be as hard. The truth will still hurt and be painful. But love will give a passage to the truth, to be received and accepted in humility and hope.
Congratulations to all of you, our dear media partners, finalists and winners of the 45th Catholic Mass Media Awards. We honor and recognize your hard work. We greatly appreciate your creativity and resourcefulness. We would like to affirm your great calling to speak with the heart the truth in love. God bless you always. May the Lord protect and strengthen you as you perform your duties and mission in life.