UNESCO rolls out first African MOOC on freedom of expression and safety of journalists
Lourdes, France, January 29th, 2018 (Alphonse Tri Nguyen) “Hate of Truth comes from fear. It can reveal things we don't like. Lies can seem easier, but over time, become a prison. Truth can be difficult at the beginning but becomes less and less difficult because it frees us. Truth should then become our aim.” Fr. Wombee, priest of the Perpignan diocese, Doctor of history and theology.
The roundtable discussion of the second date of the 22nd International St. Francis de Sales Days gave many fruitful and suggestive thoughts, delivered by panels coming from different Catholic and secular press institutions, such as the Holy See’s communication department, the Spanish episcopal conference, the French Institute of Public Opinion, the French political world and SIGNIS.
Nataša Govekar, director of the Theological-Pastoral Direction of the Secretariat for Communication of the Holy See, began the morning section by presenting the Transmission Of Faith Through Images of Original Sins by Rupnik and Centro Aletti which underlines the biblical reference of the message of Pope Francis for the World Communication Day 2018.
Reflecting from Holy Father’s message, Fr. Jose Gabriel Vera of Spain emphasized “the truth, which is the conformity of fact,” and “the world without truth is a world without goodness and beauty.” In addition, Pope Francis’ statement was quoted to remind participants that “individuals always will have the final responsibility for discerning what is real news and what is helpful to share on social media.”
Sister Veronique Margron, professor of moral theology at the West Catholic University (Angers) posted the challenging fact that “Truth is not possible without justice.” In other words, miscarriages of justice can be avoided more often by a clearer determination of the truth.
However, politics and economy have their own language and news reporters are often challenged in their attempts to present the truth, said Helen Osman, president of SIGNIS. Giving the American politics context as an example, Osman gave two reasons why most people don’t trust the news media. Firstly, journalists are seen as “the other,” people who do not understand the recipients of their reporting. Secondly, social media has exasperated the influence of fake news.
“Although the Holy See’s ongoing call for media literacy expressed after the Second Vatican Council – even yesterday by the Holy Father -- has gone largely unheeded, we do have leaders in the Catholic world creating a growing clarion call for our own catechetical endeavors in this arena. I think it should be a mandatory part of young people’s education, including in their faith formation, and I encourage finding ways for us 'digital immigrants' to become more skilled in media literacy,” Osman said. She suggested the theories and rationale of politics and economy are based as much on perceptions, appearances, and feelings as on facts, numbers and rational arguments. (To read her full speech, click here)
The day ended with the screening of The Case for Christ, a film based on the best-selling book of the same title by Lee Strobel. A documentary of Strobel’s investigations into the factual basis for Christianity’s claims about Jesus Christ by interviewing experts, checking facts, and collating sources into a logical whole, the film gave participants a chance to reflect on their own relentless pursuit of the truth.