Let’s Help Youths in Africa “learn how to swim in the sea of artificial intelligence systems”: Catholic Archbishop

There is need for Catholic adults to accompany young people as they navigate the digital culture and related applications, includingof Artificial Intelligence (AI),Archbishop Gabriel Charles Palmer-Buckle of Ghana’s Cape Coast Archdiocese has said.

Speaking during the Monday, May 13 webinar, which members of the Inter-Regional Meeting of the Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA) organized to mark the annual celebration of the58th World Communications Day (WCD) 2024, Archbishop Palmer-Buckle admitted the pervasiveness of the digital culture among youths.

“Our youths are already immersed very much in the digital revolution,” he said, adding that Catholic youths in Africa “are citizens of the world and they have the global happenings on their fingertips when they key in their cell phones.”

The Ghanaian Catholic Church leader called for sessions on digitality involving adults and youths at the grassroots, saying, “In parishes, we should encourage them who have their cell phones to bring it, have the time together with them, just on cell phones.”

“Teach them how to use the platforms; create a platform also of the parish with them and for them and on that platform have at least an elder person, a Priest, a Religious, a lay woman, preferably a layman, who is constantly waiting to be contacted for any and every question on that platform so that he or she can accompany them,” Archbishop Palmer-Buckle explained.


According to the Local Ordinary of Ghana’s Cape Coast Archdiocese, young people “need accompaniment. They need help to learn how to swim in the sea of artificial intelligence systems.”

He emphasized the need for youth mentorship in digital culture, and added, “Whoever the mentor is, whoever is accompanying them, must himself or herself be somebody of very solid Catholic formation, solid on the formation of AI and its ramifications.”

Alluding to Pope Francis’ Message for the annual WCD marked on the Sunday before Pentecost during which the Church celebrates the achievements of the communications media and how they can be engaged to promote gospel values, Archbishop Palmer-Buckle said that a digital culture mentor “must also be somebody who has interest and time for these young people. That is the wisdom of the heart.”

In his message released under the title, “Artificial Intelligence and the Wisdom of the Heart: Towards a Fully Human Communication”, the Holy Father reinforces his call for “ethical reflection” and “open dialogue on the meaning of these new technologies” that he had expressed earlier in his Message for the 57th World Day of Peace 2024.

The May 13 IMBISA webinar was organized under the theme, “Unpacking the message of Pope Francis on the 58th World Social Communications Day.”

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In his input during the webinar, Archbishop Palmer-Buckle said, “We need to have the wisdom of the heart for our sons and our daughters, the young people especially in Africa, where young people below the ages of 35-40 constitute 65% of our population.”

He added, “Young people between the ages of 17 and 35 constitute 35% of our population. We cannot say that the future is for the youth if the present does not take care of them. I love my young people because I consider them not the future, but the present.”

“The ‘present’ means a gift. And the youth are really a gift; they are a gift that the Lord God gives us in themselves; they are a gift to their parents and their societies; they are a gift to their countries; they are a gift to our church, and we must appreciate them as gifts. God wants them to offer themselves as a gift in whatever they do, AI included,” he explained.

The 73-year-old Archbishop, who started his Episcopal Ministry in January 1993 as Bishop of Ghana’s Koforidua Diocese also underscored the need to invest in young people “because one genius is worth 4000 people. If we are able to identify amongst our young people the geniuses we have and encourage them today, invest in them, they are going to be the ones to do what I call the quantum leap and the qualitative leaps.”

He went on to caution against undermining youths in Africa and labelling them as “problems”.


The Catholic Church leader said, “We should not look at our young people as problems. They are possibilities; they are assets that we must invest in. Every little time and money we invest in them will pay a very huge dividend.”

“Parishes, churches must invest at least 30% of their talents, and when I say talents, I mean money, treasure, time, resources and everything, at least on the young people who are below the age of 35. Because by investing in them, they are going to do the multiplicator effects,” he said.

Archbishop Palmer-Buckle went on to compare the Holy Father’s message for the 57th World Day of Peace titled, “Artificial Intelligence and Peace” and this year’s message. He said, “These two documents make it clear to you and me that Pope Francis is quite concerned about this technological advancement and its inevitable impact on humanity and on human relations.”

“The Holy Father is very convinced that the technological advancement known as Artificial Intelligence has come to stay and we must embrace it. We must make positive use of its enormous potential or possibilities, and we must make use of it for the good of humanity as a whole,especially for those of our brothers and sisters who are most disadvantaged or marginalized in society,” he said.

Archbishop Palmer-Buckle continued, “Artificial Intelligence is a double edged sword. It is both positive and negative, depending on the usage that humanity will put this beautiful technological advancement to.”

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“There is a need to strengthen, or if necessary, to establish bodies charged with examining the ethical issues arising in this field and protecting the rights of those who employ forms of Artificial Intelligence or are affected by them,” he said.

“It is in pursuit of this need to regulate, or better still, to help the international society self regulate or adopt means of steering humanity away from the negative and selfish use of Al that the second document of the Holy Father speaks of Artificial Intelligence and the wisdom of the heart towards a fully human communication,” Archbishop Palmer-Buckle said.

This wisdom of the heart, he said, “is God's invitation to humanity to avoid what the Holy Father calls primordial temptation to become like God without God.”

He recommended that Local Ordinaries in Africa “ask one of your qualified personnel, be it a layman or woman, Clergy or religious, to study these two documents on the pope's teaching on Artificial Intelligence and to share knowledge with your local church, its leadership, and the people of God.”

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