A Catholic bishop this week said the Church needs to work harder to help form the conscience of people in the wake of reports that disinformation influenced the conduct of last month’s national elections.
“It is a remarkable election affected by massive disinformation,” said Bishop Dennis Villarojo of Malolos in an online program sponsored by Cebu Caritas.
“The role of the Church will have to be conscience formation,” said the bishop, adding that everyone should help in disseminating the truth to fight the spread of “fake news.”
“Let us go to the grassroots and revitalize the Basic Ecclesial Communities,” said the prelate, adding that “the triumph of the Church comes when people are converted to the truth.”
Cardinal Jose Advincula of Manila has earlier challenged the faithful, especially the young, to help combat disinformation amid what he called a “crisis of truth” in the country.
Speaking at the Thanksgiving Mass for the canonization of St. Titus Brandsma on May 28, he asked Catholics to use social media as a “pulpit” to evangelize and defend the truth.
“If there are forces that use social media to deceive and spread lies, let us combat them by flooding it with the truth of God’s word,” Cardinal Advincula said in his homily at the Cubao Cathedral in Quezon City.
While he acknowledged that the task is not easy, he stressed that when truth is at stake, “remaining apathetic and silent is a sin.”
Father Roy Bellen, communication’s director of the Archdiocese of Manila, also said that the Church “has to organize all its resources to reach more people and come up with more creative contents to disseminate accurate and true information.”
The priest said that more than the communication platforms, which have become available for all, “it is really the content, its quality, and packaging that [Church communicators] should focus more.”
He said any tool, such as social media, that can be used to connect people is “God-given,” although he warned that it may be abused.
“It is not the tools or means of communication themselves that is the cause of trouble, but the users,” said the priest.
A 2021 digital report by marketing firm We Are Social shows that 89 million Filipinos out of the that country’s 110.3 million are active on social media.
The Philippines holds the record of having the highest social media usage in the world with an average of four hours and 14 minutes daily.