Advertisement

Catholic Bishops in Africa Challenged to Improve Media Visibility of Church Initiatives

Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard, the founder and chairman of Apo Group. Credit: ACI Africa

The Catholic Church in Africa is a leading provider of quality social services and is at the center of key development initiatives. Unfortunately, very little is known about the important role of the Catholic Church in society, the founder of the APO Group, a leading Pan-African communications agency has said.

In his message to delegates of the 19th Plenary Assembly of the Symposium of Episcopal Conference of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) taking place in Ghana’s capital city, Accra, Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard, the founder and chairman of APO Group acknowledged the growth of the Catholic Church in Africa, and regretted the fact that the services of the Church lack adequate media visibility, and go unnoticed.

“Africa is the only continent where the number of Catholics is increasing. And the contribution of the Catholic Church to Human Development in Africa is also constantly increasing,” Mr. Pompigne-Mognard said on Tuesday, July 26.

He added, “The few media specialized in Catholic-related news are doing a very good job, but they are reaching only the ones who are already convinced Catholics.”

Mr. Pompigne-Mognard said that the role of the Catholic Church in Africa is especially notable in education and health provision, where the Church is providing better quality services compared to those in government institutions.

Advertisement

He told delegates of the 19th Plenary Assembly of SECAM at Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) Conference Center that in the last 10 years, Africa is the continent, which recorded the largest increase in the number of schools managed by the Catholic Church.

In the same period of time in matters health, Africa is the continent, which recorded the largest increase in the number of healthcare facilities managed by the Catholic Church, the founder and chairman of the pan-African communications consultancy and press release distribution service said. 

“In fact, the market shares of Catholic schools and healthcare facilities are higher in sub-Saharan Africa than in the rest of the world,” he said, and added, “Not to mention the fact that, in sub-Saharan Africa, satisfaction is higher with faith-based schools and healthcare facilities than with public providers.”

“The Catholic Church also manages countless Medical Schools and Nursing Schools across the continent,” the Franco-Gabonese entrepreneur further said on the second day of the July 25 – August 1 19th SECAM Plenary Assembly that has brought together over 120 Catholic Bishops in Accra, Ghana.

Delegates of Plenary Assembly who are meeting under the theme, “Ownership of SECAM: Security and Migration in Africa and its Islands”, are drawn from the eight regional associations of the continental symposium, which include the Association of Episcopal Conferences of Central Africa (ACEAC), the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA), the Association of Episcopal Conferences of Central Africa Region (ACERAC), and the Regional Episcopal Conferences of West Africa (RECOWA/CERAO).

More in Africa

Other regional associations include the Assembly of the Catholic Hierarchy of Egypt (AHCE), the Regional Episcopal Conferences of North Africa (CERNA), Madagascar and Episcopal Conferences of Indian Ocean (CEDOI), and the Inter-Regional Meeting of the Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA).

In his message of solidarity with Catholic Bishops in Africa and Madagascar, Mr. Pompigne-Mognard observed that more than ever, in Africa, the Catholic Church is at the heart of education, health, conflict resolution, and posed, “But does the general public know this?”

He noted that Africa's growth prospects are among the highest in the world, adding that the growth prospects were already attracting multinationals from all sectors.

Unfortunately, according to the founder and chairman of the APO Group, Africa’s growth prospects are also attracting “self-proclaimed religions” that he said “are now in direct competition with the Catholic Church in so many parts of Africa.”

“And these so-called religions are massively using blatant advertising,” he said, and added, “Right here, in Accra, you can see that some of the largest outdoor advertising billboards are used by these competitors of yours.”

Advertisement

Mr. Pompigne-Mognard said that it is time that the world knows what the Catholic Church is doing to improve the well-being of the people, and in the development of the African continent.

One way to do this, he said, is “to professionalize” the public relations of the Catholic Church in Africa by using public relations services utilized by other private and public entities.

He clarified that public relations is not about advertising, and added, “Public relations is only about editorial. It’s about press releases, interviews, press conferences, opinion pieces. It’s about getting in the news. It’s about getting media coverage.”

He quoted Pope Paul VI who said that the Church “would feel guilty before the Lord” if it failed to use the media for evangelization.

“Another Pope, Pope John Paul II, has called the media ‘the first Areopagus of the modern age’, and declared that ‘it is not enough to use the media simply to spread the Christian message and the Church's authentic teaching. It is also necessary to integrate that message into the ‘new culture' created by modern communications,’” the APO Group founder said, adding, “Doing that is all the more important today, since the media now strongly influence what people think about life.”

(Story continues below)

Mr. Pompigne-Mognard acknowledged the space that the Catholic Church enjoys in commenting on all societal issues.

He said, “When it comes to the public relations of the Catholic Church in Africa, there is something I would like you to appreciate. You, the Catholic Church in Africa, are uniquely entitled to express your views on any single topic, from technology to climate change, from health to education.”

He said that the world is craving for guidance the Catholic Church has to offer, and added, “We live in a very confusing and troubled world and a lot of people are in need of values and spirituality in their lives.”

In his July 26 address, Mr. Pompigne-Mognard announced that APO Group will provide support across a broad range of public relations services, including the distribution of press releases, training of communications staff, and the facilitation of meetings with media and other organizations intended to raise the profile of the Catholic Church in Africa.

“APO Group is also providing Zoom licenses to the Catholic Church in Africa,” he told delegates of the 19th Plenary Assembly of SECAM taking place at GIMPA Conference Center in Accra.