Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle said what is needed is not merely a social media in the Church but a Church in the social media.
The Filipino cardinal told a recent gathering of Asian bishops in Thailand that social media are not only means of communication “but a world in itself, a world that tries to recreate our world”.
They are creating a “new humanity,” said the Pro-Prefect for the Section of Evangelization of the Dicastery for Evangelization, with its own consciousness that controls not just the business world but even politics.
“So if it is a world, then we just don’t use social media for evangelization, social media is one of the worlds, the spaces, that needs to be evangelized,” Tagle said on Oct. 29.
And right now, according to the papal envoy to the general conference of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC), it is one of the “omnipresent ecosystems” affecting not only Asia but the whole world.
“So evangelization might need to enter that world and bring the values of the Gospel,” he said. “And if we do not occupy that space, somebody else will occupy it so we might as well be there.”
One of the “bright lightings” of the Covid-19 pandemic, he added, is that many dioceses “suddenly” realized the need for social communication ministry.
Since the Vatican-II, he said the Church has been talking about it, but there has been “very little effort”.
“Then the pandemic came and now many are looking for it,” Tagle added.
On several occasions, the cardinal called out social media trolls and “fake news” peddlers, adding that spreading false information is contrary to Christian mission of evangelization.
“True communication happens in the context of covenant. Manipulation thrives in the context of disrespect. That’s why fake news proliferates – deliberately deceiving people. That’s not evangelization,” he said in 2018.