POSITIONING SOCIAL COMMUNICATIONS IN THE PASTORAL LIFE IN A DIOCESE OF CATHOLIC CHURCH IN THE YEAR OF FAITH
Rev. Fr. XYZ is facing a crisis moment because he just lost his handset. This is a device the wake him up in the morning with the alarm. If there is no electricity, he lights his way with its light. Often before he goes for morning Mass, he scrolls through the Bible application in his phone to confirm some references for his sermon. Many times when he finishes his purchases he uses his handset as calculator. He no longer worries about his wrist watch because the cell phone has a clock. Fr. XYZ does not carry a diary anymore because his handset has diary and its alert and at lonely moments he selects a soft gospel tone from the handset music list to nourish his soul. This modern day Catholic priest does not frequent commercial banks anymore because he operates his internet banking using same handset. Fr. XYZ cannot remember when last he went to a post office because most of his interactions are done with the SMS, email or calls with his cell phone.
Again, as the day wears on he puts on the cable television if luckily there is power supply and follows the latest news round the globe as he takes his launch and prepares for the next item for the day. If there is no cable news he listens to the news briefs his handset is capable of intercepting. During the day there are ample moments to really get social with the new media. The Facebook and Twitter applications come handy here. Our digital clergyman scrolls through his Facebook timeline and sees how the discussions for the latest premiership match turned out. Facebook reminds him that somebody’s birthday is that day and he heaves a sigh of relief wondering if he would have remembered but for this now famous aide memoire. He switches application to Twitter and sees the trending issues. He wants to procure some building materials for his parish projects, he sends a text message and the reply that the supply is on its coming–such is the mode of business interaction in the new age.
It’s not all, as intermittently a text message arrives from the secretariat informing him of a crucial Pontifical/Diocesan collection or reminding him of the next burial of a parent of a priest or religious. In the evening of a Sunday there is a never-to-be-missed el classico match, Manchester derby, San Siro derby or more seriously still the Champions league final math at Wembly. He sends text messages around inviting some likeminded priests and friends to come over and share the moment even if it entails celebrating the benediction earlier or worse still skipping it ……. Can you see yourself in this portrait? Whoever has not seen a spark of this anonymous priest or personality in him or herself does not exist in the present planet!!!
The prophecy of Isaiah 43, 18 – 19 is talking place in our time “Do not remember the former things or consider the things of old; I am about to do new thing; now it springs forth, do you nor perceive it? Dear listeners, the physical world of man has given birth to the digital world or world online. We are talking about the social media, social network, news media, etc. This new horizon is accessed through the internet and the means of connection are the computer, Ipad, Iphone, Smartphones, Tablets, Facebook, Tweeter, YouTube, 2go, Pinging, Websites, Blogs, Email, etc. According to Pope emeritus Benedict XVI “Social Networks are portals of truth and create a new “agora”, an open public square in which people share ideas, information and opinions, and in which new relationships and forms of community can come into being. In social networks, believers show their authenticity by sharing the profound source of their hope and joy: faith in the merciful and loving God revealed in Christ Jesus. This sharing consists not only in communicate “choices, preferences and judgments that are fully consistent with Gospel, even when it is not spoken of specifically” (World Communication Day Message 2013). In the face of the emerging realities where do we stand as a people as a local Church? How ready are we to key in and be on the same page with the rest of the world? How do we appraise the urgency of equipping ourselves to remain relevant in the call to evangelism in this Year of Faiths?
Pope Benedict XVI launched the Year of Faith aimed at renewing and strengthening the faith of Christians. The Year of Faith started on October 11th, 2012 which actually coincided with the 50th anniversary of the start of the Second Vatican Council and will run until November 24th, 2013. The Year of Faith within the call for New Evangelization became imperative because of the fast level of secularization sweeping through Europe which is the ancient home of Christian missions round the world. Pope Benedict XVI fought this malaise headlong in his writing, speeches and visits. As it were, Africa was not left behind because in his post synodal exhortation to the Church in Africa, ‘African Church and in so doing make Africa a new source of evangelization missions at the global level. According to Archbishop Rino Fiscichella (President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelisation) “There’s a lot of enthusiasm surrounding the Year of Faith. Above all it’s an enthusiasm we can actually see in Christian communities, so in diocese, parishes, lay movements and associations. It’s an opportunity to reflect on the role faith plays and why it’s important in people’s lives,” (February 6, 2013. Romereports.com). Part of the Year of Faith is emphasizing how culture, are and music can inspire and become tools for New Evangelization.
Ndi Okigwe diocese, he who fails to plan, plan to fail. Obu noy nwere anya n’ ahu ihe edere n’ mgba aja; Onye iberibe amaghi mgbe umunna yak ere nka ukw; Onye emeghi osisi ugbo aghara ya; mbiha utara wu n’ mbu. Humanity has woken up to a new reality, a new way of living, relating, interacting, doing business, a new way of governance, a new way of thinking and most importantly a new way of evangelizing–in a word a new global culture has arrived! Developed countries like the United State of America (USA), European nations are already there and many developing countries have either keyed in or are fast doing so. Where are we and what are we doing about it?
THE VATICAN MODEL
We look closely to see how the Holy See purses the goal of the new evangelization in the year of faith using the social media. Already, on 4 December 1963, fathers of Vatican II promulgated Inter Mirifica, a decree on the means of social communications. On 29 Jan. 1971, it was followed up with Cummunio et Progressio. Fundamentally, the church believes that in carrying out the work of evangelization handed it over to her by Jesus Christ she has to use all the means of social communication and, in fact, teach the world on how best to use them. (Vat. II, 26, p. 284-285). The Holy See has strongly supported the establishment of the faculty of social communications in all Pontifical Universities and funds various types of international seminars, workshop and conferences on how to position the Catholic Church in the emerging digital world. For practical purposes the Vatican City State operates a private television (Cenro Television Vaticano – Vatican Radio (Radio Vatcana) is a famous global brand that operates in so many languages, hundreds of websites, and even an astrological station located at Castel Gandolfo. Radio Maria, Radio Padro Pio and hundreds of Catholic radios and television stations round the world and the renowned EWTN collaborate with the Holy See in the task of evangelization.
As a matter of fact, there have been fellow ups to the implementation of the recommendations of Inter Mirifica, but most recently, on December 12, 2012 on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the former leader of the Catholic’s 1.2 billion faithful, Pope Benedict XVI, became the first Pope to join Twitter. Using the handle, @ Pontifex, his first tweet read, “Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart.” From the Vatican on January 25, 2013 Pope Benedict XVI gave his voice of support to the hundreds of thousands of pro – lifers demonstrating in Washington, D.C. The Pontiff tweeted this message: “I join all those marching for life from afar and pray the political leaders will protect the unborn and promote a culture of life.” On February 28, the day Pope Benedict stepped aside the Papacy, he tweeted, “Thank you for your love and support. May you always experience the joy that comes from putting Christ at the centre of your lives.” After his resignation, the Vatican suspended the account. However, shortly after Pope Francis delivered his first address on March 13, the Vatican tweeted a message for the first time since Pope Benedict’s resignation: “HABRMUS PAPAM FRANCISCUM” (We have Pope Francis). Paving the way for Pope Francis to make use of the account, the Vatican deleted all the tweets sent from @Pontifex account and Pope Francis took control of it. On March 17, Pope Francis posted his first tweet. He stated, “Dear friend, I thank you from my heart and I ask you to continue to pray for me. The post was retweeted 36,940 times. His third tweet, sent on the day of his installation, read “True power is service. The Pope must serve all people, especially the poor, the weak, the vulnerable.” It was retweeted 24,124 times. Pope Francis first 5 tweets gained 4, 449, 349 followers worldwide in 9 Twitter accounts. (As at Tuesday, March 26, 2013). While @Pontifex is the Pope’s primary account in English, which currently has 2, 176, 970 followership, he also communes with the Catholic world with 8 other Twitter accounts in 8 major languages that offer translations of his tweets. The 8 other accounts are @Pontifex_in (Latin) with 53, 238 followers; @Pontifex_de (German) with 81, 640 followers; @Pontifex_es (Spanish) with 1, 292, 028 followers; @Pontifex_pt (Portuguese) 148, 072 followers. Others are @Pontifex_pl (Polish) with 61, 412 followers; @Pontifex_it (Italian) with 493,412 followers; @Pontifex_fr (French) with 100,593 followers and @Pontifex_ar (Arabic) with 41, 984 followers. With the way the 9 multilingual accounts of Pope Francis is actively pulling in thousands of new followers every day, Twitter could be the veritable platform the Catholic Church will use to reach more of the world’s population about its beliefs. Already, Pope Francis election is the second biggest Twitter event of all time behind President Barrack Obama’s 2012 re–election. According to Twitter, some seven million tweets related to the new pontiff emerged on March 13, the day Pope Francis was elected. At its peak, the papal tweeting reached a crescendo of 132, 000 tweets per minute.
On March 19, 2013 Pope Francis gave his fellow Argentineans a happy surprise, thousand of the faithful who gathered in the Plaza de Mayo in the early hours of the morning to watch the inauguration of the Petrine Ministry Mass were given a big surprise, namely, a personal message from Pope Francis. The Holy Father’s telephone call was broadcast to the crowd gathered in the Square. “Dear children, I know you are in the square. I know you are praying and saying prayers, I need them very much. It is so beautiful to pray. Thank you for that,” Concluding his address to the faithful of his homeland, Pope Francis invited them to nor fear God, but to be close to him, saying that God is a Father to all. “May the Virgin bless you, do not forget this bishop who is far but loves you very much. Pray for me,” the Pope said. From the Vatican City on Saturday, 30 March from 5:15pm until 6:40pm there was an extraordinary exposition of the Holy Shroud in the Cathredral of Turin, Italy. The initiative was part of the Year of Faith that was proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI. The event was broadcasted live by the Italian television channel, RAII. For the occasion, Pope Francis recorded this video message: “Dear Brothers and Sisters, I join all of you gathered before the Holy Shroud, and I thank the Lord who, through modern technology, offers us this possibility.” The Church has fully embraced the new media. Meanwhile, according to Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for social Communication, and Monsignor Paul Tighe, secretary of the same dicastery, Pope Benedict’s assessment of social media is positive and not naïve. The call for new era of evangelization acquires a new import in the Year of Faith. The Catholic Church inspired by the Holy Spirit in reading the hand writing on the wall and is interpreting will the signs of the time. In the Communication Day Message for 2013, Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI enjoined the Catholics to be present at the social media sites because they are the portals of faith and truth in out today’s world and they are the latest areas for evangelization. Christians have to be present in them and not run or shy away from them. Invade them, sanctify and evangelize them with your presence and activities. Do not be victims of them but victors and conquerors of them.
CHURCH PROTAGONISTS TO FOLLOW
Apart from the pontiff, there are many cardinals and bishops on tweeter. Protagonists amongst the cardinals include Cardinal Lopez (Dominican Republic), Cardinal W.J. Eijk (Holland), Cardd. Dom Odilo Scherer (Brazil), Card. Gianfranco Ravasi (Italy), Cardinal Dolan (USA), Cardinal Sean (USA), Cardinal Wuerl (USA), Cardinal Martinez Sistach (Spain), Cardinal Wilfred Napier (South Africa), Card. Angelo Scola (Italy), Cardinal Bagnasco (Italy), Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez (Colombia) and Cardinal Mahony (USA). Down the line, Fr. Antonio Spadaro is the first Italian priest to open a tweeter account in 2007. He is the director of a magazine titled Civilta Cattolica and has authored different successful books and blogs on Theology, the internet and Twitter. As a social media expert, he claims that the secret to success in Twitter is to make brief messages that allow the reader to unlock greater knowledge, in his case, using theology and the Christian message to cross boundaries.
In USA, Rev. Fr. Robert Barron (Founder, Word on Fire Ministries) a web guru targets new generation of faithful – What started off as sermons, that were recorded and posted on YouTube, has now morphed into a growing media brand. Now that media has become a great tool for the New Evangelization. What makes him stand out from other Catholic websites is his approach. According to the priest blogger “I started with sermons that I have on the radio. We put those on our website and it grew from there so I’ve been doing video commentaries on books and movies, blockbuster movies like Batman or James Bond. For the most part, Father Barron’s target audience is young people. Over the past ten years, he successfully done what the Church hopes to accomplish through the New Evangelization, reach out to younger people using their preferred methods of communication. His YouTube videos have generated over five million views, and also tens of thousands of comments. He states that even when he visits places far away from his native Chicago, young people will often recognize him his videos. In fact, it’s not just practicing Catholics he’s engaging online which is what makes his work with Word on Fire Ministries that more interesting. His love for his faith and his willingness to engage others using newer methods has received tremendous response. (Romereports.com. January 12, 2013.)
Throwing light on the dynamics of the social networks, Benedict XVI stated that these spaces, when engaged in a wise and balanced way, help to foster forms of dialogue and debate which, if conducted respectfully and with concern for privacy, responsibility and truthfulness can reinforce the bonds of unity between individuals and effectively promote the harmony of the human family. The exchange of information can become true communication, links ripen into friendships, and connections facilitate communion. If the networks are called to realize this great potential, the people involved in them must make an effort to be authentic since, in these spaces, it is not only ideas and information that are shared, but ultimately our very selves. The development of social networks calls for commitment: people are engaged in building relationships and making friends, in looking for answers to their questions and being entertained, but also in finding intellectual stimulation and sharing knowledge and know–how. The networks are increasingly becoming part of the very fabric of society, inasmuch as they bring people together on the basis of these fundamental needs. Social networks are thus nourished by aspirations rooted in the human heart. Social networks should serve as veritable means of dialogue and cultural exchange that enrich individuals and the society. Social networks are inevitable in the interaction and relationship with the youth of today – Believers are increasingly aware that, unless the Good News is made known also in the digital world, it may be absent in the experience of many people for whom this existential space is important. The digital environment is not a parallel or purely virtual world, but is part of the daily experience of many people, especially the young.
Just few days age, Provincial members of the National Federation of Catholic Students (NFCS) berthed in Okigwe diocese for their convention. The whole gamut of these young adults who came to discuss how to fortify their Catholic beliefs were equipped with their Ipads, Smartphones, Tablets, etc and were ever busy with the social media because the youth of today is inseparable from these devices. Inevitably, therefore, to meet them the Church has to meet them where they are, namely in the social networks. It hinges on us therefore, to arm ourselves with these news devices of interaction and be able therein to educate them that facebook is not just for meeting people and talking about friendship and sex; that tweeting is not all about spreading rumors and reacting to gossips; that 2going and pinging is worth more than wasting valuable time on socializing and pouring hot emotions online. We could engage them and teach them that these God – given devices of our time could be used to talk about God, about the Blessed Virgin Mary, about saints of the day, about Catholic beliefs and practices. They could be used to talk about Jesus Christ and what he means for us. These youths could be conventions, novenas, adorations and Church activities at various joints. We could let the girls know that facebook does not need to become a hidden forum for nudity and semi – nudity. We could help expose to them inherent danger in trusting facebook friendships and risking all including life on facebook dating.
As it were, in the digital environment, too, where it is easy for heated and divisive voices to be raised and where sensationalism can at times prevail, we are called to attentive discernment. Let us recall in this regard that Elijah recognized the voice of God not in the great and strong wind, not in the earthquake or the fire, but in “a still, small voice (1kg 19:11 – 12). Social networks, as well as being a means of evangelization, can also be a factor in human development. As an example, in some geographical and cultural contexts where Christians feel isolated, social networks can reinforce their sense of real unity with the worldwide community of believers. The greater sense of closeness to those who share the same faith, an authentic and interactive engagement with the questions and the doubts of those who are distant from the faith should make us feel the need to nourish, by prayer and reflection, our faith in the presence of God as well as our practical charity. In the digital world there are social networks which offer our contemporaries opportunities for prayer, meditation and sharing the word of God. But these networks can also open the door to other dimensions of faith. Many people are actually discovering, precisely thanks to a contact initially made online, the importance of direction encounters, experiences of community and even pilgrimage, elements which are always important in the journey of faith. In our effort to make the Gospel present in the digital world, we can invite people to come together for prayer or liturgical celebrations in specific places such as Churches and Chapels. There should be no lack of coherence or unity in the expression of our faith and witness to the Gospel in whatever reality we are called to live, whether physical or digital. When we are present to others, in any way at all, we are called to make known the love of God to the furthest ends of the earth.
PROPOSALS FOR OKIGWE DIOCESE
Okigwe diocese is almost 32 years behind others in the digital world. We are still stuck with analogue reasoning and operations while our colleagues are going digital. Our secretariat operations and management are still burdened with outdated and dusty files with torn pages of credentials or even missing documents. The diocese is yet to acquire a permanent secretariat not to talk of equipping the administrative centre with state of the art gadgets that is the in-thing in our today’s world. Let us therefore, cast light on few issues that border on properly positioning social communications in the diocese in this Year of Faith.
Diocesan Level – there is the urgency for the administrative secretariat to be completed and commissioned within this Year of Faith. Secretariat operations should go digital. There should be trained staff to effect computerization of all diocesan documents involving Priests, Religious, Parishes, Parastatals, commissions, property, organizations, associations, etc. Using seminarians, interns or non permanent staff in no longer enough. There should be equipped offices for key diocesan functionaries like the secretary/chancellor, vicar general, education director, judicial vicar, financial administrator, media director, etc. In all intents and purposes; the Sage Newspaper is our sole diocesan passport to the Provincial and National Church. At least, we can now be named amongst dioceses that operate newspapers. There is then the obligation for priests, religious and laity of the diocese to embrace and patronize the Sage Newspaper as a sensitive diocesan project. This newspaper should be protected and promoted. This newspaper has to be loved and cherished. This newspaper should be seen as ours in every personal sense. It is heartening to know that efforts are being made to establish a diocesan press. This undertaking, however, would gulp some
million or more. The diocesan drive of 2012 yielded N5, 663, 415. When added to the profits the newspaper has made
through its operations then we have already half of the money required. The
remaining N10 million has to come from
our common diocesan efforts. Unfortunately, politicians and god fathers would
not be invited to fund our diocesan newspaper establishment so as to preserve
Catholic Church integrity in the future. It is therefore, hoped that space
would be found in our tight annual financial schedules to raise money for this
all important objective. Without doubt, there is the obligation to be updating
the diocesan website to act as a virile portal and bridge between the diocese
and the world.
Deanery level – Deaneries are new administrative pastoral devices in our diocesan life, but they have come to stay. Be that as it were, policies have to be put in place to strengthen them, empower them render them more effective. Deaneries should have their offices equipped with computers for proper documentation of operations, issues and property. It would not be out place for leading deaneries to engage part time computer literate staff to serve their offices. Similarly, statutory diocesan bodies like the CWO, CMO, CYON with all the money at their disposal and the great population they control should have a common or even separate offices equipped with computer and staff for effective coordination of their vital pastoral and social activities.
Parish level – Many parishes in Okigwe diocese can comfortably run computer – equipped offices with full or part time staff/secretary. This development would help strengthen pastoral administrations and create job for young computer literate Catholic. Well equipped and documented parish operations would systematize records and make parishes operate like corporate bodies that they are. Parishes would become separated from individual parish priests so that with or without given priests at any time, document, facts and issues can be sorted out. It is sad that many mother parishes cannot today trace vital historical documents relating to sensitive ecclesiastical issues. This Year of Faith should be used as occasion to position these parishes to embrace modern methods of digital operation. Parishes like, St. Mary Okigwe, St. Joseph in – building Ikpaeke, Immaculate Heart Alike, Obowo, St. Charles Umunumo, St. Ignatius Umunumo, St. Columba’s Nsu, Our Lady of Fatima Umuakagu Nsu, St. Theresa Obollo, Our Lady of Fatima Isuikwuato, St. Benedict Amaraku, St. Jude Mbano, St. Peter Umulogho, Mater Dolorosa Ihitte, St. Charles Okwelle, Sacred Heart Ngodo Isuochi, St. Peter Umunohu Ihitte, St. Anthony Uboma, etc can be used as experimental cases towards this direction starting from this Year of Faith. On a similar note, parish priests in Okigwe diocese should use this Year of Faith to equip or update the public address systems in their churches. Never should a priest be seen celebrating public Masses without the public address system. A sound public address system enlivens the celebration, enhances inspiration and strengthens faith because faith comes from hearing. Let every priest invest in private mobile public address system – it is affordable and signifies commitment to mission because priests are called to be public speakers. Similarly, portable public address system could even be provided for the bishop for his pastoral visits and related liturgical ceremonies around the diocese. This would help lessen the embarrassment of parishes that fail to provide good public address system during Episcopal Masses at their places. Governors and public leaders do so in the political world and it really works.
Diocesan schools – Education has always been effective means of evangelization. Education is one investment that perennially repays. Sen. Ike Ekweremadu (Dep. Senate President, No 4 man in Nigeria) was at St. Dominic’s Secondary school Ugiri last year for her 50 years anniversary because he is an alumnus of this now greatly dilapidated school. We can invest in the next generation of leaders by equipping our mission schools. Premier diocesan schools should not only be already running computer programs for their wards, but have computer equipped offices. Schools like: Okigwe diocesan seminaries, St. Theresa’s secondary school Alike, Fatima International Model School Umuakagu Nsu, Queen of Apostles Boys Secondary School Ogii, Queen of Apostle Girls Secondary School Okigwe, Aquinas Secondary School Osu, etc should be running referential computer programs with internet services by for their students by now. Mission schools could also show quality and standard by procuring public address systems to facilitate their morning assemblies, school Holy Masses and other similar gatherings.
Personal level – Every Catholic priest of all ages should own and learn to operate the computer. If you are still using your first computer as a priest then you are not fast enough, but if you don’t yet own one then please Father Wake up because it is day – Chi ehola! Priests should take time to learn basic operations in the computer. Register in a nearby computer school or arrange for home tutorials. If you can, then procure a modem of the network that covers your area and go online – it is highly advisable! These little acts would definitely equip you to evangelize better in this Year of Faith.
There are challenges facing the Church since the arrival of the social media. These relate to abuses by Church men and women of the social network. In fact, many clerics and religious have been caught often on the wrong side of this virtual space. Some have become addicts of frequenting pornographic websites and even registering online with embarrassing groups. It is vital to note that even choice of photos and vocabularies reflect the type of priest or religious one is. How many priests and religious amongst us use the facebook to preach Christ. For instance, Don we use it only for social acquaintance to add one more name to our long lists of friend online?
Fellow diocesans, the few times Okigwe diocese has been discoursed on the internet have not been on delightful notes. In the late 1990s before the visitation from Rome someone posted unprintable documents against our late emeritus Bishop, Most Rev. A.E. Ilonu. Cast your memories on the online bashing of the image of Okigwe diocesan priests on the alleged bribery by Ex Gov. Ohakim before the last gubernatorial election. What of the anonymous text messages from the amorphous Thomas Moore group during same period? Most recently, an Okigwe diocesan priest posted online dirty volumes on another priest who threatens now to retaliate also online! Is this Okigwe diocesan model of evangelization by means of the social media? As the 2015 general elections are fast approaching, it is imagined that many Okigwe priests are grouping, aligning and positioning themselves along political lines. On this note, it is strongly recommended that our diocesan hierarchy should come up with clear terms and conditions for priest–politicians’ collaboration. Should priests follow politicians to campaign rallies? Should priests and religious gather for Masses at the homes of politicians and then shares booties afterward? Should politicians come to address priests with bags of money? There is no need being reactive to this phenomenon instead of being proactive. Onye choro igbochi ogu, ya puru uzo gbachire itu aka! If steps are not taken these things would inevitably happen again and people would wonder what has happened to the renowned authority and discipline in the Holy Roman Catholic Church. Egbugbere onu ogara ebe mmiri mara eze? Could a diocesan chaplain be appointed for Okigwe – born politicians? This chaplain could now rally politicians and properly educate them on how best to approach our presbyter and show their financial solidarity if they must. This measure is needed otherwise the all – comers game that nearly threw the diocese into political crisis last few years would reoccur and this time the body and head could be tagged together! It is equally recommended that a diocesan ban should be placed on posting damaging and accusing documents online against fellow diocesan priests. Any such acts should be punishable if this ugly tide is to be checkmated. Similarly, punitive action should be taken against priests sending anonymous political messages to the presbytery thereby polluting the spirit of conviviality in the diocese. The leadership of the diocese is prayer to assert firmness on this issue if we avoid future internet embarrassments and avoid losing moral and spiritual authority before our people in this Year of Faith!
Other related issues to be addressed include the pastoral use of social media like praying on phone for the sick: Should praying on phone replace visits to the sick? Could priest hear confessions over the phone? How could addiction to the social media be controlled? There are priests who use their real time day and night only to watch Nollywood films, cable news, computer chatting, etc. Still more economic implication are at times crazy. It is amazing how much an average priest spends on the new social media. Many exaggerate the expenditure they make on monthly call bills, for instance. When feeding is difficult in the parishes and payment of allowances for assistants and dependants are irregular many priests and religious spend thousands of Naira on airtime of diverse networks.
Again, some allow the social media to negatively affect interpersonal relationships in the presbyteries, communities or families. When text messages replace one – on – one discussions and sharing of opinions on common programs and issues, it becomes abusive. It is common nowadays that many people are in the same place but each is engrossed in own world, equipped with his earphone listening to music, pining, 2going, facebooking text messaging, surfing online, etc. there is the malaise of the laity who make and answer calls even during consecration at Masses. Finally, it is time to formally delineate on the use of social media in formation houses. What should be the just way to introduce the social networks especially cell phones in the senior and junior seminaries? What is the healthiest mode of preparing seminarians to face digital challenges ahead?
The social media is here to stay and it is future of humanity so the Catholic Church at the global and diocesan levels must meet humanity where she is. Clergy and laity of Okigwe diocese must brace up for this new way of life and method of evangelization. This is a wakeup call for all and sundry. Let the diocesan curia lead the way and let parishes and institutions key in for the holistic relevance of the Catholic Church to the modern society in our land.