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Silence is key to communication, Pope writes

Catholic World News - January 24, 2012

Silence is a key to effective communication is a word overwhelmed by information, argues Pope Benedict XVI.

In his message for the annual World Day for Social Communications, the Holy Father writes that silence and words are “two aspects of communication which need to be kept in balance.”

The papal message, entitled Silence and Word: Path of Evangelization, was released, following a Vatican tradition, on January 24: the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of journalists. The World Day for Social Communications will be observed on May 20.

In his message Pope Benedict remarks that “learning to communicate is learning to listen and contemplate as well as speak.” Even for those who are trying to spread a message, such as the mission of the Gospel, it is critically important to listen and observe as well as to speak, he says.

Moreover, the Pope continues, the most effective forms of communication can take place in silence, through gestures and by examples. This is particularly true, he notes, of intimate and loving communication.

The importance of silence is redoubled, the Pope continues, at a time when modern communications make so much information available:

Indeed, people today are frequently bombarded with answers to questions they have never asked and to needs of which they were unaware. If we are to recognise and focus upon the truly important questions, then silence is a precious commodity that enables us to exercise proper discernment in the face of the surcharge of stimuli and data that we receive.

The constant clamor for our information, the Pope writes, can often distract attention from more profound and simple questions. He suggests that the ceaseless quest for information also points to a restlessness of spirit, and says that this restlessness can only be solved in silence, through acceptance of Jesus Christ.

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  • Posted by: normnuke - Jan. 24, 2012 10:33 PM ET USA

    I have recently been impressed with how ancient Greek drama makes powerful use of things don't happen. Becoming sensitized to the importance of action that is absent is a big part of understanding the action that does happen. This is not a skill that TV teaches.

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