Text of papal message for World Communications Day

Here is the text of “Silence and Word: Path of Evangelization,” Pope Benedict XVI’s message for this year’s World Communications Day, marked in most dioceses the Sunday before Pentecost, which this year is May 20. The message was released Jan. 24, the feast of St. Francis de Sales.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As we draw near to World Communications Day 2012, I would like to share with you some reflections concerning an aspect of the human process of communication which, despite its importance, is often overlooked and which, at the present time, it would seem especially necessary to recall. It concerns the relationship between silence and word: two aspects of communication which need to be kept in balance, to alternate and to be integrated with one another if authentic dialogue and deep closeness between people are to be achieved. When word and silence become mutually exclusive, communication breaks down, either because it gives rise to confusion or because, on the contrary, it creates an atmosphere of coldness; when they complement one another, however, communication acquires value and meaning. Continue reading

Vatican news stats

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VATICAN CITY — The Vatican doesn’t hold back when it celebrates today’s feast day of St. Francis de Sales — patron saint of journalists and writers.

The Vatican press hall held an impromptu party serving spumante, chocolates and Italian panettone cake, the Pontifical Council for Social Communications held a special Mass for journalists, and then the Vatican released Pope Benedict’s message for World Communications Day.

The pontifical council even made a surprise unveiling of its more colorful, revamped website: pccsva.org.

During the midday news conference presenting the pope’s message, the communications council’s president, Archbishop Claudio Celli presented some of the latest stats on the Vatican’s news portal news.va. The online site that aggregates all the Vatican’s news content was launched last June with the first ever papal tweet.

The archbishop said they are pleased with the growing popularity of the news site, which on average draws between 8,000 to 10,000 hits a day. Peak periods like on Christmas saw 16,000 hits in one day, he said.

People from some 180 countries are visiting the site with the United States topping the list: about 27 percent of all visitors are connecting from the USA, followed by Italy, Germany, Spain, Canada and Brazil.

The site is also relatively “sticky” with people remaining on the site about two minutes on average.  About 53 percent of their traffic is made up of unique visitors while 47 percent are regulars, he said.

Something that was surprising, he said, was how much traffic was being generated by social networks. The majority of visitors — 65 percent — came to the site via Facebook when readers shared a story featured on the site.

The PCCS doesn’t have its own Facebook page, but it does have a Twitter feed @PCCS_VA with more than 2,000 followers. Twitter generates about 30 percent of the traffic to the news.va site, he said.

Currently, the site is offered in English, Spanish and Italian, and by the summer it also will be in French and Portuguese.

With the many language options, some translations seem to slip through the cracks. Like this latest story about a French bishop who does homily tweets: the Italian story was headlined in English “When a bishop chirps.” If he had been a cardinal, that might have been more believable!

Plunging in for the environment…

In a winter that has only sporadically come close to normal cold temperatures, “real” winter made an unfortunately timed appearance Jan 21. The season’s first measurable snow, with an extra coating of ice, arrived in time to ensure a handful of  activists got a serious chilling for their Polar Bear Plunge into the Potomac River.

Ten members of the Franciscan Action Network jumped into the frigid waters of the Potomac to draw attention to climate change and wind energy.

Franciscan Father Jacek Orzechowski of St. Camillus Church in Silver Spring, Md., leaped into the river in his full Franciscan robes. The friar linked the effort to the work of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology:

“I feel strongly about the need to be more proactive in responding to the great threat that global climate change presents to humanity and the rest of the earth’s community. I’ve been challenged not only by the alarming reports of the overwhelming majority of reputable scientists but also by the words of Pope Benedict XVI who said that ‘the church cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the struggle for justice.’  Just as I’m planning to participate this year again in the March for Life in Washington, I’ll also be plunging into the cold waters of the Potomac River out of the conviction that, as John Paul II said, ‘Respect for life extends to the rest of God’s creation.”

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