VATICAN CITY (CNS) — For World Communications Day 2016, Pope Francis has chosen the theme “Communication and Mercy: A fruitful encounter.”

As the church celebrates the extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy, which begins Dec. 8, the pope also wanted to invite deeper reflection on the link between communication and mercy, said a statement from the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. The Vatican announced the theme Sept. 29.

“The theme highlights the capacity of good communication to open up a space for dialogue, mutual understanding and reconciliation, thereby allowing fruitful human encounters to flourish,” the statement said.


“At a time when our attention is often drawn to the polarized and judgmental nature of much commentary on social networks, the theme invokes the power of words and gestures to overcome misunderstandings, to heal memories and to build peace and harmony,” it said.

The pope is reminding people, it said, that “good communication is never merely the product of the latest or most developed technology, but is realized within the context of a deep interpersonal relationship” and people’s desire to be more welcoming and forgiving.

Pope Francis pointed to the connection between mercy and communication in his document officially proclaiming the 2015-2016 extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy, the statement said. The way the church communicates — her language and her gestures “must transmit mercy, so as to touch the hearts of all people and inspire them once more to find the road that leads to the father,” the pope wrote in “Misericordiae Vultus,” (“The Face of Mercy”), which called for the Holy Year.

In most countries, the Catholic Church celebrates World Communications Day on the Sunday before Pentecost; in 2016 the communications day will be celebrated May 8. A papal message for the occasion usually is released Jan. 24, the feast of St. Francis de Sales, the patron of journalists.