12/04/2013 08:13

Catholic Bishops willing to “witness” on Social Networks

11 APR 2013. The Catholic Bishops of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands (CBC PNG/SI) tackled the issue of New Media and Social Networks on the second day of their Annual General Meeting on 10 April at Alexishafen, Madang. Fr. Giorgio Licini PIME, CBC Secretary for Social Communications, and Fr. Phil Gibbs SVD, CBC Secretary for Social Concerns, introduced the topic referring also to the 2013 World Communication Day Message by Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, “Social Networks: Portals of Truth and Faith: News Spaces for Evangelization”.

While it is clear that Social Communication is now definitely interactive, the main problem for PNG and Solomon Islands still lies in weak, unreliable and expensive Internet services. Young people, however, already live online in urban areas while remote places also gain progressive access to the world wide web through Digicel services.

Interactive communication produces the fall of time and space barriers, gives larger access to information, culture and entertainment, encourages pluralism, exposes people to the negative contents of the Internet as well.

Social Media, therefore, create a new environment and a new life style that not only requires Church presence and “use” of mass media, but “witnessing” of the Gospel in the new environment where people live.

While a number of Bishops are already on Facebook, have blogs and regularly interact on line, others are prevented to do so by poor internet connection in their area or personal difficulties in adjusting to the new means of communication.

Furthermore it is clear that the possibility of catechetical, liturgical, and pastoral programs online based on Social Networks still needs to be studied and worked out in PNG and Solomon Islands.

PNG and Solomon Islands Bishops and pastoral workers in general find themselves in the situation of developing a double lane pastoral strategy: one for the still predominant remote, rural and traditional set up; the other for the increasingly expanding urban, modern, and connected environment.

At the moment it indeed takes a particular interest and passion for the new generations to prepare “witnessing” the Gospel on Social Networks; while in the future that will be a concern for the general population. (cbcpngsi.org – giorgiolicini@yahoo.com)