Violent Conflicts Across the Globe Stem from “unwillingness to listen”: Nigerian Bishop

Bishop Emmanuel Badejo of Nigeria's Oyo Diocese. Credit: Oyo Diocese

In a reflection based on the Message of Pope Francis for the 2022 World Communications Day (WCD), the President of the Pan African Episcopal Committee for Social Communications (CEPACS) has underscored the value of listening and blamed violent conflicts across the globe on the “unwillingness to listen and understand the other.”

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”.

In his reflection shared with ACI Africa Monday, May 16, Bishop Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo says, “The refusal to listen often ends up turning into aggression towards the other, as happened to those listening to the deacon Stephen who, covering their ears, all turned on him at once.”

“How so true it is that most ongoing violence and conflict in the world today derive from that unwillingness to listen and understand the other,” Bishop Badejo says.


The Local Ordinary of Nigeria’s Oyo Diocese invites Catholic communicators to heed Pope Francis’ call “to listen more to one another to bring back the joy of human fraternity so as to reduce tension and hate in the family and the world.”

In practicing listening, he says, “Many wounds could be healed and many relationships restored as well. Such is the power of this gift of listening.”

The Message of the Holy Father, Bishop Badejo says, “addresses very current and worrying global realities as he contrasts the human attitude with God who, unlike humans, always inclines his ear to listen to human beings.”

“On the contrary, human beings tend to flee the relationship, to turn their back and close their ears so they do not have to listen,” the Nigerian Catholic Bishop says in his reflection on Pope’s Message for 2022 WCD, to be marked under the theme, “Listening with the ear of the heart”. 

Established in 1967 by Pope Paul VI, WCD that provides an opportunity to reflect on the challenges and opportunities of modern means of communication is marked on the Sunday before Pentecost. 

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Reflecting on the theme guiding this year’s WCD celebration, Bishop Badejo says, “The Pope’s message, titled ‘Listening with the ear of the heart’ is replete with insights about the importance of the art of listening to the self, the voice within, to others and to God and is packed with very dense, spiritual and scriptural exhortations in every paragraph about the art of listening.”

“The WCD message assumes even a larger profile when we consider it as continuation of the ongoing relational process of Synodality, initiated by the Holy Father himself, which is meant to optimize the entire listening strategy of the Church and enhance the participation and collaboration of all who may feel left behind,” the President of CEPACS says in his May 16 reflection.

He adds, “Pope Francis, by this message, seems to me to covet a reputation as an apostle of the listening Church.”

“One could be easily forgiven for that assumption, because even in his 2020 encyclical, Fratelli Tutti (FT) on Fraternity and Social Friendship, the Pope, in proposing concrete solutions to enable all peoples close ranks and recreate world family where all have a place and are made to feel welcome, carved out a role for the apostolate of the ear,” the Nigerian Bishop says.

Making further reference to Fratelli Tutti, Bishop Badejo says, “The ability to sit down and listen to others, typical of interpersonal encounters, is paradigmatic of the welcoming attitude shown by those who transcend narcissism and accept others, caring for them and welcoming them into their lives.”


“Yet, today’s world is largely a deaf world… At times the frantic pace of the modern world prevents us from listening attentively to what another person is saying. Halfway through, we interrupt him and want to contradict what he has not even finished saying,” he says, and appeals, “We must not lose our ability to listen.”

Bishop Badejo continues, “Listening with the ear of the heart in order to receive words not just through the ears but spiritually in our hearts, as proposed by Saint Augustine, is the Pope’s recommendation to combat exclusion, discrimination, marginalization and oppression which have become an albatross in the way of achieving a global human family today.”

“Pope Francis affirms that listening is decisive in the grammar of communication and a condition for genuine dialogue where ‘duologue’ (a mere monologue in two voices) is not allowed to replace genuine dialogue,” he says.

The Catholic Bishop adds in reference to dialogue that Pope Francis “proposes it as an antidote to aggression, deriving from the frustration of isolation, exclusion and bias. For him, listening is fundamentally a dimension of love.”

“In recommending more listening as the ideal attitude to the self, to others, in the journalism profession and even in public life, the Pope does not exclude the Church,” the Catholic Bishop who serves as a member of the Vatican Dicastery for Communication since December 3 says.

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He adds in reference to Pope Francis’ 2022 WCD Message, “It is sad when, even in the Church, ideological alignments are formed and listening disappears, leaving sterile opposition in its wake.”

The Holy Father, Bishop Badejo says, “teaches that Christians should never forget that they have been committed to the ministry of listening by God himself who is the great listener and whose work Christians are called to share.”

“Following after the World Communications Day message of the previous year which focused on two other essential human activities, ‘Come and See’, it is clear that this Pope of subtle, pastoral and current sensibilities seeks with his message in an uncanny way to lead humanity, whole and entire back to its pristine state of being,” Bishop Badejo says in his reflection shared with ACI Africa May 16.

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.