Recently, Polish websites have published an interesting story about the Pope Francis referring to official sources in Vatican. A pregnant Italian woman, whose husband left her once he learned about her pregnancy, wrote a letter to the Pope in despair: the woman described the situation in detail about how her husband learned the news and how he forced her to make an abortion. The woman refused to kill her unborn child and decided to keep it and raise the child alone. However, it was important for the 35-year-old Anna Romano in her solitude to find spiritual support, that’s why without any hesitation she wrote to the Pope. A few days later the woman’s cell phone rang. On the phone Anna heard the voice of the Pope Francis: “I will baptize your child! We, Christians, cannot afford to deprive someone of hope!”
DIALOGUE BETWEEN CHURCH AND SOCIETY
After the described situation many cites again posted a special list of recommendations from the Italian publishing house about what you should do when the Pope phones you. You can’t help but smile when you read these tips, because some of them, for example, are as follows: “Don’t ask about the problems and recent scandals in Vatican. He is not to blame for that and, perhaps, already has much trouble with that. If the conversation will be about animals, don’t mention ravens (cuervos – a symbol of the sports club, the traditional enemy of the Pope’s favorite team).” The usual definition reads that “a dialogue is a conversation between two or more people,” but, in my opinion, we need to look for something deeper here. In order for communication to be effective, it is important that the process occurs on both sides. And in understanding of these processes one cannot disregard the possibility of creation communication through media platforms. Let’s just look at the first segment of the information report: “35-year-old Italian woman wrote to the Pope.” In this we see how the Church can be close to every person and how it can actively participate in the communication. The Pope is the head of the Church with a huge number of believers, a person, who has a very busy schedule and many duties, however, this did not stop the woman from writing to him, like to any other priest, whose ultimate duty is to serve every person. This fact, in my opinion, indicated two things. The first is that the society forms a certain image of the Church. Of course, media plays an important role in this process, as we already stated before. You can just analyze the content of Christian Internet resources after the enthronement of Pope Francis.
Anna Romano: “I don’t know whether the Pope will find time for my baby’s baptism. But I already know that the baby will be born in April and it’s going to be a boy. I want my story to be an example for those women, who stay outside the Church only because they met an irresponsible man, who cannot even attest his paternity. A call from the Pope did not happen by chance, through a call to one person he is trying to reach out to many. I want to name my son Francis.”
Then remember the photos of the Pope in the subway, the Pope who walks the streets unguarded, the Pope, who has worn-out shoes and refuses to get new ones. Mass media elaborated an image of the new head of the Church – open to those, who need it the most. Another thought that came into my mind after reading the news report is that in the modern world there are more and more lost people. In my opinion, Anna Romano is an example of an ordinary woman who had to face severe challenges. In previous articles we pondered over how important it is now to be able to withstand the impact of secularization, because the more a person tries to improve this world, the more temptations and pseudo-freedoms he faces. That’s why a person in the modern world, perhaps, needs ten times as much support and spiritual assistance. Another important aspect is the Pope’s response. His reaction to the letter, in my opinion, should be a lesson to many Church leaders. For a priest the place in the hierarchy of the Church cannot be an obstacle in his primary task – communicating with people. I think that in today’s world it is not enough to just share your impressions of new discoveries, technology development, it is important to bring up a person with spiritual core, that’s why the Church is and should remain an active platform in building civic society, since a citizen is a person with persistent immunity to the temptations of modern time.
EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION IN THE CONTEMPORARY SITUATION
In my opinion, there are many obstacles in present communication between the Church and society. First of all, it is the lack of understanding of specific features of the present time. Two years ago I had a discussion with one of the leaders of the Protestant denomination. Pastor persistently argued to me that communication on a platform of social networks and the Internet in general is fatal for a modern Christian. Of course, social media is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, their use threatens the security of personal data, can cause dissolving in the information flows, taking on the role of a passive “like-hitter.” However, communication in social networks has its advantages. Just a few months ago one Greek Catholic priest wrote in his blog his reflections on sins, which are often confessed by people, who come to him. Soon a response-blog appeared on the Internet: a young girl wrote on her LiveJournal about what advice she would like to hear from a priest during a confession. This is an example of communication in modern time: through Internet, phone calls, e-mail correspondence. For many people there is a barrier between them and the Church: they are afraid to come to a priest to talk to him in real life, ask him for help looking directly in his eyes. Given the current factors, primarily the psychological peculiarities in world perception, again, because of the uncontrollable flow of information and challenges, such reaction is totally justified. Therefore, in my opinion, the clergy should pay attention to these peculiarities and characteristics of the time, they should not refuse to open and keep their personal pages on social networking platforms and blogs. I think that after a series of private messages between a priest and a person, first, he won’t feel so lost and forgotten, and, second, it might change his stereotypes about the Church and, perhaps, some day he will come to a temple realizing how important such communication is for strengthening one’s spiritual “vestibular system.” Therefore, a real dialogue and not just talking from the pulpit (a special place in a temple, designed for reading and proclamation of the Gospel sermons) in daily worship indicated the desire to go beyond the standard limits.
“I don’t know whether the Pope will find time for my baby’s baptism. But I already know that the baby will be born in April and it’s going to be a boy. I want my story to be an example for those women, who stay outside the Church only because they met an irresponsible man, who cannot even attest his paternity. A call from the Pope did not happen by chance, through a call to one person he is trying to reach out to many. I want to name my son Francis [Francesco in the original. – Ed.],” said Anna Romano commenting on the situation for the journalists.