February 8, 2016

Use the power of communication to build bridges and heal wounds, not generate hatred or misunderstanding, Pope Francis said.

The Catholic Church, too, must proclaim the truth and denounce injustice without alienating everyone in need of God's help, he said in his message for World Communications Day.

"We can and we must judge situations of sin - such as violence, corruption and exploitation - but we may not judge individuals, since only God can see into the depths of their hearts," he said.

"It is our task to admonish those who err and to denounce the evil and injustice of certain ways of acting for the sake of setting victims free and raising up those who have fallen."

To coincide with the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis dedicated this year's message to the theme, Communication and Mercy: A Fruitful Encounter. Most dioceses will mark World Communications Day May 8, the Sunday before Pentecost.

In his message, the pope said what people say, how they say it and what actions they take must all "express God's compassion, tenderness and forgiveness for all."

Only by giving witness to and preaching with Jesus' warmth and mercy can the words of faith come alive to touch people's hearts and sustain them on the journey toward fullness of life, he said.

Since everyone is a child of God, no one must exclude another - "without exception" - from dialogue, he said.

"May our way of communicating help to overcome the mindset that neatly separates sinners from the righteous," he said. Mercy is what helps alleviate "life's troubles and offer warmth to those who have known only the coldness of judgment."

Truth is to be upheld with love, he said, and "only words spoken with love and accompanied by meekness and mercy can touch our sinful hearts.

"Harsh and moralistic words and actions risk further alienating those whom we wish to lead to conversion and freedom, reinforcing their sense of rejection and defensiveness."

Those who feel a world rooted in mercy would be "hopelessly idealistic or excessively indulgent" should think about the beauty of love between parents and their children in which love is never dependent on meeting certain conditions.

"I would like to encourage everyone to see society not as a forum where strangers compete and try to come out on top, but above all as a home or a family, where the door is always open and where everyone feels welcome.

"How beautiful it is when people select their words and actions with care, in the effort to avoid misunderstandings, to heal wounded memories and to build peace and harmony," he said.