He added, “We do not go out there to impose things; we go there to propose and that requires an attitude of dialogue.”
He said that there are currently so many hindrances to communication that have contributed to fake news, prejudice, impatience and inability to listen with “the ear of the heart”, which he said is the theme of the 56th WCD.
Fr. Bwalya said, “There is a lot that can block communication; I think the biggest for me now is prejudice. People have prejudgments about people and different groups.”
In their effort to create awareness about WCD, Catholic media houses in the Archdiocese of Nairobi are visiting some Parishes and sharing with parishioners about the annual celebration that was established in 1967 by Pope Paul VI to provide an opportunity to reflect on the challenges and opportunities of modern means of communication.
Among other initiatives in the awareness campaign include sharing of Holy Father’s Message on the platforms of Catholic Media Houses ahead of WCD and distribution of flyers bearing the message in summary form during the visits in the Parishes.
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Two Kenyan government officials have been invited to the May 29 event, to interact with representatives of the 15 Catholic media houses in the Nairobi Archdiocese. The government officials are from the ministry of Information and Communications technology (ICT), and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the media council of Kenya.
In the May 18 interview with ACI Africa, Fr. Bwalya said that the church is mandated to communicate only the gospel message, which is the truth.
“There has to be coherence between what the church preaches and gospel values: respect for one another, respect for human life, respect for nature, ecology. The church needs to be seen doing these things and not just preaching about them," he said.
The Comboni missionary who has been at the helm of the Nairobi-based New People Media Centre since 2014 said that the phenomenon of fake news has concealed truth and that “half-truth” is now considered as solid truth and people are acting on it.
“Truth is surrounded by half-truth, that sometimes people regard as the solid truth and that becomes difficult as far as communication is concerned because people start interacting on what is not true or complete,” he said, and added, “Peace eventually becomes lies, rumors and something like that.”
A section of representatives of Catholic Media Houses in Nairobi Archdiocese at a meeting on 3 March 2022. Credit: Fr. Isaac Maina, SDB/BEAMS/Nairobi
The Coordinator of Catholic media houses in the Archdiocese of Nairobi reflected on the relationship between the ongoing preparations for the Synod on Synodality and the theme of world communication and said that it is only when you listen to each other that you can journey together.
“I think that the ongoing synod and the world communication day and the theme that was chosen, listening to the ear of the heart, there is a very strong connection. One influences the other or affects the other in a positive way,” Fr. Bwalya said.
He explained, “In the Synod, the idea at the end of the day is to get the views and positions from different people, even those outside the church.”
For that to happen, Fr. Bwalya said, “one needs to have an attitude of listening."
"Unless there is this attitude of respect, listening will not take place and eventually synod will not take place," he said.
The Message of the Holy Father for the 56th WCD to be marked on Sunday, May 29 is a call to listen “with the ear of the heart”. Pope Francis’ call to listen is based on his assertion that “the true seat of listening is the heart.”
The call to engage the heart in listening, the Pontiff says in his Message issued January 24, is inspired by the fact that “we are losing the ability to listen to those in front of us, both in the normal course of everyday relationships and when debating the most important issues of civil life”.
Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.