Catholic media professionals and practitioners have been called upon to brace themselves for the challenges brought about by social media and stand ready to counter false publications about the Church.
The call was made by the Catholic Bishop of Nsukka Diocese and the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN)’s Episcopal Chairman of the Directorate of Social Communications, Godfrey Onah. Bishop Onah made the remarks when he addressed staff of the Directorate during their first statutory meeting for the year 2017, in Abuja, recently.
According to Bishop Onah, “Today in social media there is anonymity, and with the anonymity of the Internet people do a lot of harm: A lot of harm by spreading falsehoods, not just half-truths but falsehoods. And what makes it more dangerous is that young people now depend on this form of information than on (information from) the classroom or the Church,” he said.
Bishop Onah noted that social media had weakened the authority of traditional systems of education saying, “parents no longer know what their children know; teachers no longer know what their students know in the sense that it is not what you taught (because) the person is picking up information from everywhere.” Describing this situation as a great challenge, Bishop Onah contended: “We are to ask ourselves how we rise to meet this problem with regard to Christian faith, and the Catholic faith. It’s a big problem,” he emphasised.
The Church should stand ready to address untruths.
“I think the challenge we have to face constantly is how to respond to this provocation, if I may call it that, and use the media available in a way that is suitable to our own mission and apostolate. It’s not an easy assignment. It requires continuously reinventing ourselves and having the courage of departing from the way we have always done things. There are risks involved, but they are necessary risks that we must take.
Bishop Onah noted that members of the Catholic Media Practitioners (CAMP), which is to be re-inaugurated nationally in Port Harcourt later this year, would be expected to champion the cause of the Church in countering false publications in the social media against the Church and the Catholic faith.