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Pope Francis has embraced the social media revolution but technology such as the Apple iPad and social networks need to be used wisely

POPE Francis has published the text of his message for this year's message for the World Day of Social Communications, the 50th occasion it has been marked, writes William Scholes.

In one of those peculiar Vatican traditions, although the day itself is formally celebrated on May 8 the text is published close to January 24 and the Feast of St Francis de Sales, who is the patron saint of journalists.

Reflecting his overarching theme for the year, the Pope has chosen 'Communication and Mercy' as the subject of his social communications message.

Here are 10 of the Francis's key points:

1. "If our hearts and actions are inspired by charity, by divine love, then our communication will be touched by God's own power"

2. "As sons and daughters of God, we are called to communicate with everyone, without exception"

3. "Christians ought to be a constant encouragement to communion and, even in those cases where they must firmly condemn evil, they should never try to rupture relationships and communication"

4. "Our political and diplomatic language would do well to be inspired by mercy, which never loses hope"

5. "Mercy can help mitigate life's troubles and offer warmth to those who have known only the coldness of judgement. May our way of communicating help to overcome the mindset that neatly separates sinners from the righteous. 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"

6. "Our primary task is to uphold the truth with love"

7. "Listening is never easy. Many times it is easier to play deaf. Listening means paying attention, wanting to understand, to value, to respect and to ponder what the other person says"

8. "It is not technology which determines whether or not communication is authentic, but rather the human heart and our capacity to use wisely the means at our disposal. Social networks can facilitate relationships and promote the good of society, but they can also lead to further polarisation and division between individuals and groups"

9. "I pray that this Jubilee Year, lived in mercy, may open us to even more fervent dialogue so that we might know and understand one another better; and that it may eliminate every form of closed-mindedness and disrespect, and drive out every form of violence and discrimination"

10. "In a broken, fragmented and polarised world, to communicate with mercy means to help create a healthy, free and fraternal closeness between the children of God and all our brothers and sisters in the one human family"

Archbishop of Armagh Dr Eamon Martin, who chairs the Irish bishops' communications council, said the World Communications Day message contained guidance "timely for our society here in Ireland, as well as for families, communities and states around the world".

"It complements this special year for the Universal Church which, Pope Francis tells us in his message, 'is called to practise mercy as the distinctive trait of all that she is and does... Our primary task is to uphold the truth with love'.

"We are also reminded that to communicate in an authentic manner we must be able to 'listen' to, rather than merely 'hear', when we encounter another."

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