Asian Church should emphasize youth, evangelize social media: Cardinal Tagle – UCA News

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‘Social media is not just a means for connectedness but a powerful tool creating a new humanity.”

Asian Church should emphasize youth, evangelize social media: Cardinal Tagle – UCA News
Asian Church should emphasize youth, evangelize social media: Cardinal Tagle

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle (left) is seen with Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the convener of the general conference of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences when they joined other cardinals to address a press conference on Oct. 29 in Bangkok. (Photo: FABC) 

By UCA News reporter, Bangkok Published on: October 30, 2022 01:15 PM

The Church in Asia needs to respond to the changing landscape of social media and artificial intelligence to evangelize young people and communities, top Vatican Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle told a gathering of Asian bishops in Bangkok.

Social media has changed “the self-identity of youth…their feelings of belonging and empathy for others,” Cardinal Tagle, the Pro-Prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Evangelization, said while addressing the gathering of Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) Oct. 29.

The cardinal was Pope Francis’ special envoy at the concluding session of the two-week-long FABC general conference.

Cardinal Tagle spoke about the impact of social media and artificial intelligence on evangelization. The speed and limits of social media impact the ability of young people “to infer, critically analyze, and empathize,” he said.

He also highlighted the importance of deep reading and the danger of digital crimes and the monopoly of media by businesses.

Social media “is not only a means for connectedness but a powerful tool for creating a new humanity,” he told more than 200 bishops and delegates from 29 nations.

“We realize that the youth have already populated the world wide web, just as our forebears braved the seas and conquered mountains to explore and discover new habitats. Because of the young, Jesus is already on the web,” the cardinal said. 

“The Church of the young has become the Church swimming and navigating the new frontier of the web,” he said stressing the need to use new media technologies for evangelization 

Cardinal Tagle also addressed a press conference along with FABC president Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Myanmar, Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the convener of the general conference, and Cardinal Francis Xavier Kriengsak of Thailand, the host of the meet.

Cardinal Tagle stressed the role of social media in evangelization and appreciated using it for liturgy in emergency situations such as the Covid-19 pandemic. However, it should not replace the sacramental structure of the Church, he said.  

“The sacramental structure of the Church and of evangelization would demand that when an emergency situation is over, and people could gather and then we could touch each other again, we could touch water again,” Catholics should go back to normal sacramental life.

“We are not diminishing the contribution of the virtual, the digital. During the pandemic, it helped. Now, I think it’s a challenge to those engaged in the mission of the Church online to learn also from the pandemic,” he said.

The Oct. 12-30 conference is a part of the golden jubilee celebrations of the FABC that brought together some 20 cardinals, 120 bishops, 37 priests, eight nuns, and 41 laypeople.

The theme of the golden jubilee celebrations is “FABC 50: Journeying together as peoples of Asia“…and they went a different way.” (Mt 2:12).

During the conference, the church leaders and delegates held several consultations to draft a pastoral plan for Asian Church considering the emerging social, economic, religious, and political realities on a continent where Christians are a minority.

Cardinal Tagle said Pope Francis has sent him as a special envoy to the general conference of the FABC “to show his closeness to the Church in Asia.”

“Not every meeting or conference receives a special envoy on the part of the Holy Father. It just shows us how important it is for the Church, not only in Asia but for the Universal Church and to the Holy Father Himself,” the Filipino Cardinal said.

By sending him to the conference Pope Francis has expressed his interest to listen to the voices of the faithful in Asia, he pointed out.

“He said: please convey my closeness to the representatives there, by being close to the churches in Asia. That speaks volumes regarding the role of the successor of Peter, now in the communion of the Universal Church,” he said.

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