- Wants innovative training prioritized
- Advocates adoption of Christological and Ecclesiological principles
Most Rev. Lucio Muandula, Bishop, Diocese of Xai Xai, Mozambique has charged the Church to invest in the media to facilitate the work of evangelisation in the African continent. He made this assertion at the Assembly of the Pan African Episcopal Committee for Social Communications (CEPACS) held recently in Lagos, Nigeria. Bishop Muandula said, “As a Church, we must invest in the media if we are to be effective in proclaiming the Good News of Salvation to the ends of the earth, that is, to all the men and women of our time, especially those who feel excluded or marginalised. For this we must make a huge investment in the various forms of the media at our disposal. “
Today, throughout Africa, there are numerous radio and television stations, newspapers, magazines and communication platforms… are they effective enough? Are the contents of our production up to the quality and standard of the best vehicles of contemporary media? Are we seeking excellence, or are we content with mediocrity? “If we want to be in the media field as evangelisers capable of influencing the environment and culture of modern times, we must also invest in resources, both financial and human, to do it well and become the best in class. The prelate said that as a Church, specialised training must be prioritised for communication agents and operators. “How do we train and retrain media personnel in our local dioceses and churches? He asked the participants.
Continuing, he said, “Nowadays, anyone can create and disseminate communication content with a simple mobile phone. We must be above the level of armchair content producers and train our staff to the highest level, so that our message, the Gospel message, get everywhere and get a positive reception among men and women who want something different from content that is often below the standard that floods social media today. “As a Church, we must be innovative and original if we are to promote inclusion and weave bonds of synodal communion with those who feel excluded or marginalised by the Church and society. It is therefore not enough to imitate the way in which the Church used the media in the past. “We need to be original and innovative, that is, not content with little, and always aim for the best. We must always continue to innovate, until we reach a level of knowledge and media competence that makes us the best, in order to discover and reach new audiences, especially among people living in exclusion and marginalisation.
He went on to say that priests, religious and laity must have a complete and adequate formation. “The great digital continent does not only involve technology, but is made up of real men and women who bring with them their hopes, their sufferings, their concerns and their search for what is true, beautiful and good.” The Catholic Bishop of Xai Xai Diocese further urged the Catholic Communicators to adopt broader theological lens in order to understand the role and use of the media in mission in the Church. He identified Christological and Ecclesiological as two theological principles. Lucio explained, “There are strong Christological and Ecclesiological foundations for the centrality of communications in the Church’s mission. Contrary to what the Ministry of Information tends to be in most African countries, communication in the Church is not limited to simple and occasional announcements of the bishop’s activities, ordinations, funerals and other events of the local churches. “Rather, communication belongs to the heart of the Church’s mission, as an appeal of Christ to make known the Good News of Salvation to all men and women. This explains why the Catholic Church at the Second Vatican Council insisted so much on the good use of the media, which also led SECAM to found CEPACS, and establish it as the continental communication body in Africa.”
Most Rev. Muandula said the emergence of digital communication technologies, which is Social Networks, is undoubtedly the largest and most significant development of the media since the promulgation of the Inter Mirifica decree in 1963 and the establishment of CEPACS in 1973. This development, he noted has not only transformed the communication landscape, but has also shaped the concept of reality, both as individuals and as communities, including the ecclesial community. He remarked that to successfully review the 50 years of existence of CEPACS and reflect on the role of the media in promoting inclusion with a motive to weave links of synodal communion with those who feel excluded and marginalised within the Church, the participants must take into account the Church being called to become a citizen of culture and the digital environment as well as being called to dialogue with all the men and women of our time. “
First, on the call of the Church to become a citizen of culture and the digital environment, on September 21, 2013, Pope Francis said in his address to the participants in the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications: “The world of communications has increasingly become an ‘environment’ for many, where people communicate, expanding their possibilities of knowledge and relationship”. “In fact, unlike 50 or 60 years ago, digital media is now comprehensive and an important part of our daily life, even for ordinary people. “Today, millions of people are users and producers of the media. As we remembered the Synod on Synodality: Digital culture is not so much a distinct area of mission as a crucial dimension of the Church’s witness in contemporary culture. For this very reason, it has a particular meaning in a synodal Church. “
Whether we call the new digital forms “media,” “environment,” or “culture,” the fact is that they offer the Church a powerful tool and opportune time to promote inclusion and foster synodal communion with all Church members, especially those who feel excluded or marginalised. In Africa, most of them are young people and adolescents, especially considering that of all the available statistics, Africa is the youngest continent in the world. Millions of young Africans are looking for a hopeful future amid widespread political dysfunctionality, economic crisis, cultural isolation and social displacement, including war and violence. “The Church can use the media to reach them in a more incisive and innovative way.
Quoting again, the Final Synthesis of the Synod: “Many young people, who also seek beauty, have abandoned the physical spaces of the Church to which we try to invite them, preferring online spaces. This implies seeking new ways to involve them and offer them formation and catechesis, something to consider from a pastoral perspective.” He added that in relation to the call to dialogue with the men and women of our time, it is up to the Church to ask herself: “What role must she have played in terms of the practical means of communication at her disposal?” “To answer this question, Pope Francis invites the Church to enter into dialogue with the men and women of today, to appreciate their desires, their doubts and their hopes.
They are men and women who sometimes feel disappointed by a Christianity that seems to them sterile and in difficulty, when they try to communicate to them the depth of the meaning that accompanies the gift of faith. “This call to dialogue with the men and women of today is radically ecclesiological. It means that, as a Church, we are willing and ready to seek and find those who experience all forms of social exclusion and marginalisation, that is, by quoting again Pope Francis: “people with a growing sense of disorientation and isolation… people with a loss of meaning for life, an inability to connect with a “home” and a struggle to build meaningful relationships”. “
The Pope adds: It is therefore very important to know how to dialogue and, with discernment, to use modern technologies and social networks in order to reveal among them a presence that listens, converses and encourages’. “This is a prophetic appeal to the Church, to become a citizen of culture and the digital environment and to use the media “to walk with all”, especially with those who feel excluded or marginalised”.