By Deborah Castellano Lubov
Pope Francis has reminded journalists of their important role of responsibly and ethically informing and educating future generations, when receiving a delegation of the "Biagio Agnes" international journalism prize in the Vatican on Saturday morning.
He delivered those present his written remarks, prior to greeting those present.
"Only together," the Pope emphasized, "can a horizon of hope be drawn." This, he said, "is the daily work of the journalist, called upon to 'wear out the soles of his shoes' or to walk the 'digital' streets always listening to the people he meets."
As he spoke about the need to get one's hands dirty, the Pope also expressed heartfelt words of appreciation for those reporters who report on war, and take great risks in doing so.
"Journalism," he underscored, "requires the ability to go where nobody goes: a moving and a desire to see. A curiosity, an openness, a passion."
Recalling the prize's recognition of journalists reporting on war, the Pope commended their "recounting the tragedy and absurdity of conflicts, makes everyone feel part of the same suffering."
The Holy Father then delineated three "elements" of journalistic work, "which are perhaps used less and less, but which still have much to teach": notebook, pen, and gaze.
Turning to the "notebook," the Pope said, jotting down a fact always involves a lot of inner work. One jots it down because one is a direct witness or because a source, which one believes to be reliable, reports it, opening it up for further verification.
"The notebook reminds us of the importance of listening, but above all of letting oneself be transfixed by what happens."
The journalist, he stressed, "is never an accountant of history, but a person who has decided to experience its implications with participation, with compassion."
While they are being used less and less and replaced by more advanced means, the Pope observed, the pen still "helps to process thought, connecting head and hands, fostering memories and linking memory with the present."
"The pen," he noted, "evokes the handicraft work to which the journalist is always called: one takes the pen in hand after checking details, sifting through hypotheses, reconstructing and ascertaining every single step. In this weaving, intelligence and conscience act together, touching one's existential chords."
“The pen thus recalls the 'creative act' of journalists and media workers...”
He continued, "The pen thus recalls the 'creative act' of journalists and media workers, an act that requires them to unite the search for truth with rectitude and respect for people, in particular with respect for professional ethics, just as Biagio Agnes did."
Notebook and pen, the Pope reasoned, "are mere accessories" if "a gaze at reality is missing. A real look, not just a virtual one." Today, more than in the past, he lamented, one can be distracted by words, images and messages "that pollute life."
He invited journalists to "think, for example, of the sad phenomenon of fake news, bellicose rhetoric or anything that manipulates the truth. A careful look at what is happening is needed to disarm language and foster dialogue."
“Think, for example, of the sad phenomenon of fake news, bellicose rhetoric or anything that manipulates the truth.”
The Pope said a journalist's gaze must be directed from the heart, to "dispel the shadows" and "build a better civilization." This is an effort required of each one of us, "but one," he highlighted, "that calls in particular for a sense of responsibility on the part of communication workers, so that they may carry out their profession as a mission."
Pope Francis concluded by encouraging those present to continue their commitment to promote cultural initiatives "to support the dissemination of correct information, educating and training the younger generations."
He thanked them for their presence, congratulated the awardees, and requested their prayers.
The Pope's Agenda