“Evangelization a matter of communication”: Cardinal on Communications Week in Nigeria

John Cardinal Onaiyekan. Credit: Nigeria Catholic Network

Communication and evangelization are intimately connected, John Cardinal Onaiyekan has said in his Tuesday, May 16 Message on the occasion of this year’s ongoing Communications Week (COMWEEK), an initiative of Catholic Bishops in Nigeria.

“Evangelization is the main task of the Church. Evangelization is very much a matter of communication,” the Nigerian Cardinal says.

He acknowledged the significance of modern technology and the related means of social communication, saying they are “an important aspect of the modern world.”

The 79-year-old Cardinal who retired as Archbishop of Nigeria’s Abuja Archdiocese in November 2019 further says that “modern technology has revolutionized the reach and impact of social communication”, and that “even the government knows and they try to keep a close watch on it.”

“We shall succeed or fail in our primary task of evangelization depending on how we positively exploit or culpably neglect the means of social communications that God has put at our disposal,” he says.


Members of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) established COMWEEK as a program that seeks to promote media literacy in Catholic Parishes all over the West African country. This year, the weeklong program has been scheduled to run from May 14-21.

In his May 16 message on the occasion of this year’s May 14-21 COMWEEK, Cardinal Onaiyekan shares the background of how the Church has embraced the modern means communication, making them, “in recent times … a major aspect of its apostolate and evangelisation project.”

“This became obvious already in the Second Vatican Council, which devoted a whole document to it, with the title: Inter Mirifica; Decree on the Means of Social Communications,” the Nigerian Cardinal says in reference to the 4 December 1963 Decree by Pope Paul VI on the media of social communications. 

Since then, the Cardinal who started his Episcopal Ministry in January 1983 as Auxiliary Bishop of Nigeria’s Ilorin Diocese says, subsequent Popes have kept the media of social communications “in the forefront of Church attention, especially in the annual celebration of the World Communications Day (WCD), with a powerful message for each year.”

“From Pope Paul VI in 1967 till Pope Francis this year, we have a long list of unbroken messages that has now become a rich body of doctrinal and pastoral authoritative teaching – or magisterium of the Church on this all-important matter,” Cardinal Onaiyekan says, referencing the Papal Message for the inaugural WCD on 7 May 1967 that was organized under the theme, “Church and Social Communication: First World Communication Day”.

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He speaks about this year’s event that is celebrated on the Sunday before Pentecost, which has been scheduled for Sunday, May 21 under the theme, “Speaking with the heart: ‘the truth with love’”.

The Nigerian Cardinal urges Local Ordinaries and their respective communication teams to “give this celebration the urgency and importance that it deserves.”

“May the Holy Spirit continue to guide our efforts,” Cardinal Onaiyekan implores in his May 16 message on the occasion of this year’s May 14-21 COMWEEK.

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