Archbishop Decries Post COVID-19 “media virus” in Africa, Says Youth “most infected”

Increased media consumption that characterized people’s lives during the COVID-19 pandemic has continued, with a section of Africa’s Catholic population choosing to engage with digital gadgets rather than join others for Sunday worship, a Catholic Archbishop has noted with concern.

In his address during the four-day Golden Jubilee of the Pan-African Episcopal Committee for Social Communications (CEPACS) that concluded Tuesday, November 21 in Nigeria’s Lagos Archdiocese, Archbishop Gabriel Charles Palmer-Buckle singled out the youth in Africa as the “most infected” by what he described as post-COVID-19 “media virus”.

During COVID-19 pandemic, the people of God embraced the media, worshiping virtually, Bishop Palmer-Buckle recalled, adding that he finds it regrettable that long after the pandemic, a section of the Catholic faithful in Africa “seem to have been infected by another ‘deadly’ virus, namely the media infection.”

“The youth are the most infected by this media virus and you know better than me the challenges the media and the digital world are posing the Church’s mission of evangelization and the work of human development,” he said in his presentation on Monday, November 20.

The Local Ordinary of Ghana’s Cape Coast Archdiocese went on to challenge young people in Africa to “employ the strengths and creative energies” to participate in the promotion of good values on the continent, including the evangelization mission of the people of God.

“The world is waiting for Africa to contribute her share consciously for the good of humanity,” he said on November 20, the eve of the conclusion of the Golden Jubilee celebrations of CEPACS, an initiative of the the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM).

The November 18-21 celebrations of the entity that has a membership of the eight Catholic Bishops at the helm of the Commissions of Social Communications in the eight regional conferences of SECAM and their President, was organized under the theme, “CEPACS at 50: Towards Promoting a Synodal Church in Africa through Social Communications.”

CEPACS functions mainly through the assistance of media experts and regional coordinators, who oversee the day-to-day operations of the Commissions of Social Communications in their respective regional associations of Catholic Bishops in Africa and its Islands.

In his November 20 address, Archbishop Palmer-Buckle also acknowledged the “vibrancy” of the youth in Africa, adding that young people constitute “not less than 60% of the continent’s population.”

“You can imagine the vibrancy and vitality of this category of youth when educated and invested in, what a force that will become be it for the synodal Church as well as for the continent of Africa and for humanity,” the Ghanaian Catholic Archbishop said.

He went on to urge Catholic media professionals in Africa to “come up with more creative ideas and ways and means to make the digital space and culture available to the various parishes and mission stations in Africa” in view of fostering a synodal Church that also involves the youth.

“Your responsibility in this digital Areopagus and culture is to help the Church Family use the media, evangelize it, and put it at the service of Christ Jesus the Saviour and of the Body of Christ,” the 73-year-old Archbishop, who started his Episcopal Ministry in January 1993 as Bishop of Ghana’s Koforidua Diocese told Africa’s Catholic media professionals.

Catholic media professionals, he continued, have the responsibility to “encourage our hearers, especially the youth of Africa, empower them, and evangelize the media Areopagus.”

In his December 1990 Encyclical Letter on the permanent validity of the Church’s missionary mandate, Redemptoris Missio (RM), Pope John Paul II described the world of communications as “the first Areopagus of the modern age … which is unifying humanity and turning it into what is known as a ‘global village.’”

“To some degree perhaps this Areopagus has been neglected,” Pope John Paul II said about the modern means of social communication, which, in his observation (RM, 37c), “have become so important as to be for many the chief means of information and education, of guidance and inspiration in their behavior as individuals, families and within society at large. In particular, the younger generation is growing up in a world conditioned by the mass media.”

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