, 08 October, 2019 / 2:32 AM
At a time when the diffusion of Internet and digital gadgets globally and in Africa have contributed to the use of social media across the globe, Catholic journalists in Africa’s most populated country, Nigeria, have been encouraged to engage social media for evangelization, digital forums that can facilitate the passing on of gospel values with relative ease.
“It (social media) is a blessing from God entrusted to media practitioners to improve the society and also propagate the faith, and positive values virtues in society. Make the best use of it,’’ Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Abuja told journalists at the Catholic Media Practitioners Association of Nigeria (CAMPAN), which took place in Jos, Plateau State recently.
The annual convention attended by over 60 lay media men and women from both the secular and diocesan media organizations was held under the theme: “The New Media and Evangelization in Nigeria: A Reflection.”
Archbishop Kaigama called on media practitioners to use these tools objectively and constructively because they were within their reach.
The Prelate revealed most of the Catholic bishops in Nigeria now use the various social media platforms to promote evangelization in their dioceses.
“They had realized that the various platforms are powerful tools for effective communication, evangelization and to reach a wider audience,” he told the journalists.
He said that most of the bishops now employ the new media to send their communiqués, pastoral messages and homilies to others outside their ecclesiastical jurisdictions.
Recounting his personal experience of social media, he said he was convinced that the new media is really a powerful tool for evangelization if positively and constructively engaged by the handlers.
“Many Nigerians and members of the international community have begun to applaud the good works of the Catholic Church in Nigeria,’’ he said in reference to the interactive nature of social media.
The journalists in Nigeria under their forum, CAMPAN, took note of the growing number of young people engaging social media platforms in their country and called on the Church leadership to tap into the skills and interests of young people in this era of digitality to facilitate the spreading of the gospel.
The convention also noted that just as the digital media can strengthen the Church's efforts in evangelization, formation, and growth of faith, digital platforms can have negative influences through the spread of falsehoods through fake news as well as equip radical groups with possibilities to spread propaganda and even recruit candidates.
CAMPAN encouraged Bishops in Nigeria to appoint priests with passion for communication as chaplains to the association at diocesan level.
The association also urged Bishops to ensure their directors of social communication and lay personnel receive regular training and attend refresher programmes that would always home their skills in their duties in their respective dioceses.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa