Archbishop’s column: World Communications Day

Looking back on past issues of Wel-com, we see how it has fulfilled some of the key ideas of Pope Benedict XVI

Today is World Communications Day. At the same time this is the 250th issue of Wel-com which began its service of the dioceses of Wellington and Palmerston North in September 1984. Congratulations on this achievement!
Since that time, Wel-com has been true to its mission of “searching for the truth in order to share it with others” as the theme of this year’s World Communications Day puts it.
Looking back on past issues of Wel-com, we see how it has fulfilled some of the key ideas of Pope Benedict XVI in his message for World Communications Day:
•    Diffusion of news—how we all love to skim through the Wel-com and look for a story or picture of someone we know
•    Information—every month there are articles on the life of the dioceses, and often an invitation to take part in educational programmes
•    Spread of literacy—short articles are reader-friendly!
•    Development of democracy and dialogue—holding out the challenge to engage in the issues of our country and world.
Wel-com has also taken us beyond the boundaries of our two dioceses with items of national and international concern. Through well researched articles, it has helped ‘to foster and strengthen understanding between nations, to breathe life into peace dialogues—to promote the ideals of solidarity and social justice’. The activities and programmes of Caritas, the Catholic Bishops’ Agency for Justice and Development, are constant features in Wel-com. They are also a tribute to the generosity of our Catholic schools and parishes.
Just as we have bioethics in the field of medicine and scientific research linked to life, Pope Benedict also challenges us to reflect on the need for info-ethics. What does he mean by this? Communications must take up the defence of the human person in society, and fully respect human dignity. Perhaps this is a way we can evaluate a story we read, or programme we watch on TV. How is the dignity of the human person either enhanced or diminished by the way they are being presented here? What could we do about that, especially in this election year?
Our Archdiocesan Synod of  2006, Salt and Light Together, pointed the way to the future:
• Celebrating God in our lives through liturgy, prayer and spirituality
• Sharing our living faith through education and a commitment to life-long growth in faith
• Growing in community by being a welcoming community especially toward youth, and through ministry and local leadership, and
• Working for justice and peace, recognising that social justice is our responsibility.
Wel-com played a key role in the years of preparation for the synod, and continues to bring both salt and light each month on how we are going with putting these priorities into practice.
It is not possible to let this 250th edition celebration pass without a tribute to the founding editor, Father Bernie Hehir, and his successor Mrs Marilyn Pryor. In all that she wrote, in the new directions that she steered Wel-com, she was fired by a passion for ‘the inviolable dignity of the human person’ (Benedict XVI ).
I am deeply grateful to the current editor, Cecily McNeill, for her dedication and expertise, and to all who contribute regularly to Wel-com. In both its printed and electronic forms, Wel-com has truly been a means of ‘giving an account of the hope we hold within us’ (1 Peter 3:15).
The full text of the Pope’s message is on the website of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications