A Vatican official urged Catholics to be “credible communicators” of truth amid the prevalence of disinformation and fake news.
Bishop Paul Tighe, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, noted that people, including bishops and priests, need to be aware of the inner workings of digital media.
He made the observation in a forum on “truth and discipleship” on July 2.
The prelate said “inner discernment,” “attentiveness,” and “intentionality” should accompany people’s engagement online.
During the online forum, the Vatican official said the Church must actively assist in developing skills by utilizing resources that are found in its schools and parishes.
He added that “intergenerational dialogue” needs to be promoted to aid netizens in becoming alert to risks found in the use of social media.
Digital media should be understood beyond their offering of convenience, facility, and expanded reach, said the prelate, adding that its impact on the way people communicate and form relationships should be explored.
He noted that in the current milieu, people’s offline and online lives are inevitably linked.
Bishop Tighe said that instead of shunning digital media for its supposed negativity, Christians should adopt a “reflective stance,” echoing the pastoral instruction “Communio et Progressio”’s urgent call for “judicious and critical” media use.
The manner in which people use their God-given freedom should be a primary concern as they go about their dual role of “prosumers” — producers and consumers — of digital content, said the bishop.
Father Francis Lucas, president of the Philippines’ Catholic Media Network, said credibility is best established by way of immersing one’s self in the community and living the Filipino value of “pakikisama,” or getting along, with the people.
He said “positivity” needs to fuel online conversations to counter the culture of bashing and trolling.
The priest said social media influencers, including Church leaders and personnel, should offer alternative yet meaningful content, catering to impressionable social media users in particular.
He said that amid the lies and destructive propaganda, a silver lining could be found in values in people’s hearts, such as the Filipino’s religiosity and their faith, hope, and love, “which are the real bases for knowing and living the truth.”
In the end, Christians need to rediscover Christ as the truth Himself, said the priest.
The two-hour forum, which carried the theme “Guide me in your truth and teach me,” was initiated by the Veritas Asia Institute for Social Communication of the Office of Social Communication of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, the Philippines’ Catholic Media Network, and the Mary the Queen Parish of the Diocese of Novaliches.