Cardinal William Goh of Singapore stressed the need for Catholic priests to understand how to use media to promote “intercultural and inter-religious dialogue” in the region.
“Priests and other clerics must be trained in the use of media, otherwise, they will say the wrong things, which can have a significant impact on how the Gospel is understood,” said the prelate in an online forum on social communication this week.
“Be more informed about this digital media,” said the cardinal at the annual meeting of Asian bishops on social communication from November 7 to 9 sponsored by the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) Office for Social Communication.
This year’s forum carried the theme “Communication and the Synodal Church.”
Cardinal Goh said that Catholic Church leaders should learn “how to use [media] properly in today’s society” amid what he described as a “culture of individualism.”
“It is essential to discuss education and the establishment of infrastructure,” said the cardinal, warning that “If we do not (do it), we will lose our chance because everything is connected to communication.”
“It is vital to educate priests and seminarians in the digital age,” he said.
The cardinal also urged Asia’s Church leaders to see the government as a mission partner, especially in the region where Christians are a minority.
“We do speak out, but we cannot impose our beliefs on everyone. It is essential for religious leaders to collaborate, including with the government,” he said.
He said “encounters” should be considered as “meetings with individuals (who are) fashioned in the image and likeness of God.”
“We must focus on the individual, utilize digital technologies, and connect individuals on an interpersonal basis,” said Cardinal Goh.
He then urged those working in the Church’s social communication ministry “to be ready to evangelize in the digital age.”
In the same conference, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon, FABC president, called on Church communicators to work together in reaching out to the faithful.
“It is my earnest appeal to the FABC-OSC, and all the OSCs of the member conferences to help each other and help the whole church in Asia,” said the prelate in a report on Radio Veritas Asia.
Cardinal Bo encouraged everyone “to extend a helping hand to those who lag behind in harnessing the potential of communication.”
“We know that effective communication, even in the secular sphere, involves teamwork,” he said.
“If our communication is to lead us ultimately to communion, we have to learn the difficult lessons of togetherness, collaboration, and teamwork,” said the cardinal.
He invited all “to reflect on the fact that failing to communicate with each other in the spirit of Christ and help each other in true Christian charity are counter to the spirit of the synod.”
“Let us make every effort to improve our communication, the quality of content, and the manner of our communication,” said Cardinal Bo.
“Let us join hands, sit down together, plan, evaluate and examine the fruitfulness of what we do,” he added.
Cardinal Bo reminded the participants of the meeting to be aware of the central role of social communication in the Church’s ministry and to bring it into the life and mission of the Church.
He said the FABC general conference last month has many important ideas to implement.
“We cannot put into practice these good decisions and plans unless we take social communication seriously,” said the cardinal.