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Social media as evangelization tool

tempo editorial dec82013

A Vatican Official, representing His Holiness, Pope Francis, keynoted the Catholic Social Media Summit Version 2.0 held in Manila on November 23-24, 2013, organized by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), Episcopal Commission on Youth and YouthPinoy, to promote online evangelization, using social media to proclaim the Good News. Delegates came from archdioceses, dioceses, schools, parishes, and communities nationwide.

The talks of Msgr. Paul Tighe, Secretary of Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Social Communications and leader of the team behind Pope Francis’ Twitter account@Pontifex, centered on pointers for Filipino netizens as they use social media as tool for evangelization. He said the Catholic Church does not see social media’s emergence as a threat to traditional ways of evangelization, but instead it is being used by the clergy to get the interest of the faithful.

Speak in a language understandable to young generation, he urged netizens, noting that “communication can touch people’s hearts only if we listen to them and engage with their questions.” He challenged Filipinos to become good citizens of the digital world, open to dialogue and witness to a life of evangelization, emphasizing that the digital language is conversational, interactive, and dialogical. He encouraged social media-savvy Filipinos, 93.9% of whom have Facebook accounts to be online in a positive way, advising them that whenever they have concerns, they should do so constructively. It is easy to put something on YouTube, create a blog, or do a podcast, but because people comment, or share, Catholics must listen and be open to scrutiny, he said.

Social media is an extraordinary blessing to humanity; one had to appreciate what a wonder it is, he said, urging Catholics to create beautiful things to express themselves. Before faith was expressed in art, cathedrals, and music; now it is manifested through apps, YouTube, and Facebook, he said. Twitter is a tool for Filipino workers to exercise their faith despite being in places where religious freedom is limited, he said, citing that a big part of 10 million Twitter followers of Pope Francis are Filipinos working abroad, especially in the Middle East. He said the Vatican sees social media as a way for the Church to reach the faithful, citing that the Pope was able to tweet his solidarity with Filipinos on the day of the super-typhoon “Yolanda.”

The Manila Bulletin, led by its Chairman of the Board of Directors Dr. Emilio T. Yap, President and Publisher Atty. Hermogenes P. Pobre, Executive Vice President Dr. Emilio C. Yap III, Editor-in-Chief Dr. Cris J. Icban Jr., Business Editor Loreto D. Cabañes, Officers and Employees, congratulate the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, headed by President Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas, and Vice President Davao Archbishop Romulo G. Valles, in their spiritual undertakings to nourish the faith and bring the message of salvation, especially to young Filipinos, through the digital world. CONGRATULATIONS AND MABUHAY!