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CAMPAN national convention:
  • Domesticate, conform AI to cultural mix – Prof. Emina
  • The world needs reevaluation of values – Fr. Edward
  • To keep updating skills of members, CAMPAN must develop a training programme – Fr. Umoh
  • The Catholic Herald team presents her 100-year old newspaper

By Neta Nwosu and Constaincia Uruakpa

Prof. Kemi Emina, Lecturer, Delta State University has enjoined the Nigerian nation to domesticate AI and conform it to her cultural mix, while also educating the people on the new wave and dangers inherent in the technology. Emina disclosed this while giving the keynote address, during the 2024 Annual Convention of Catholic Media Practitioners’ Association of Nigeria (CAMPAN), with the theme, “Artificial Intelligence and social media communications in the Catholic Church in Nigeria” held recently at the Pastoral Institute, Catholic Diocese of Issele-Uku, Delta State.

He said: “Within Nigerian context, it is important we begin to domesticate it and make its usage conform to our cultural mix by educating our people on the new wave and dangers inherent.” “Fortunately, the Catholic Media worker must be in the fore front of this effort at salvaging humanity as it’s important that we remember that scientific research and technological innovations are not really neutral, but subject to cultural influences”, he said. He quotes Pope Francis, “As fully human activities, the directions they take reflect choices conditioned by personal, social and cultural values in any given age. “The same must be said of the results they produce: precisely as the fruit of specifically human ways of approaching the world around us, the latter always have an ethical dimension, closely linked to decisions made by those who design their experimentation and direct their production towards particular objective’.

According to Emina, the truth remains that science cannot replace humanity, because science primarily is a product of man’s intellect, but modern man, having climbed the ladder of science, begins to see himself above the dictates of moral laws, he loses the human consciousness and subtly reduces everything to mathematical laws. He however, said science develops best when its concepts and conclusions are integrated into the broader human culture and its concerns for ultimate meaning and value. Dr. Emina said scientists cannot, therefore, hold themselves entirely aloof from the sorts of issues dealt with by philosophers and theologians.

He noted that by devoting to these issues, something of the energy and care they give to their research in science, they can help others realise more fully the human potentialities of their discoveries, adding that they can also come to appreciate for themselves that these discoveries cannot be a genuine substitute for knowledge of the truly ultimate. Quoting Pope John Paul II, the lecturer said that science can purify religion from error and superstition; religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes, as he added that each can draw the other into a wider world, a world in which both can flourish. — Pope John Paul II {Letter to Rev. George V. Coyne, S.J., Director of the Vatican Observatory (1 Jun 1988). In Ted Peters, Science and Theology (1998), 157).

According to him, “As a Catholic and once a member of this body, I honestly believe that the Catholic Media Workers must begin to set the agenda for healthy discourse not just within the Nigerian Church, but in the society as well. “We must recognise and let our people know that AI will lead to job loss, deep fake, enhance rumour mongering, as truths will be sacrificed and humanity will be dehumanized. This Association must lead the struggle to educate the masses of our people as AI will definitely disrupt all facets of our life.”

In his address delivered on the occasion, Very Rev. Fr. Mike Umoh, National Director of Communications, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN), Abuja, informed the media practitioners that it is their duty to educate and enlighten the people on proper engagement of media tools and their adverse effects on human life and society. Fr. Umoh said it is the duty of CAMPAN members to help the Church in properly and effectively channeling the tools of the media towards evangelisation.

On behalf of the Bishops, Fr. Umoh thanked the members of CAMPAN for the enormous ways they play their roles as Christian Communicators in their offices, parishes and in the Church as a whole. He added that they (CAMPAN) should keep up their good works, as he prayed God will reward them abundantly. He urged them to be disciples of the upcoming Communications Week (COMWEEK), because it is the way to go, adding that the more the people understand the media, especially the theme of this year’s edition on Artificial Intelligence, the better for the Church and the society.

The National Director urged the media practitioners to work closely with the Communications Directors in their dioceses and provinces, adding that the national executives should work closely with the National Directorate at the Catholic Secretariat in Abuja. He said that is the only and surest way the professionals can really find meaning and live up to their calling as a body, by being first and foremost ‘Catholic’. He noted that the theme of the convention, “Artificial Intelligence and Social Media in the Catholic Church in Nigeria” is very appropriate and timely, as it is in line with the Holy Father’s message for 2024 World Communications Day (WCD). Calling on CAMPAN to be properly represented, the priest reminded the media professionals of their role towards the success of the Communications Week in their different parishes and dioceses.

He said the Catholic Bishops in Nigeria, in their wisdom, extended the one-day universal communications day celebration into a one-week media literacy programme for the Church in Nigeria, noting that this year, being the third, COMWEEK will be celebrated from Sunday May 5 to Sunday May 12, 2024 in all parishes, seminaries, convents and Catholic institutions in Nigeria. He commended the National Exco, led by Mr. Patrick Osu, for all the work they did to keep the body going, as he prayed to God to reward them all for your services.

The Director stated that the media landscape has changed very drastically as well as the society the people now live in, as such, CAMPAN must be ready for a total overhauling and reinventing of itself in order to be truly relevant and live up to her calling in the Church and society. Fr. Umoh asked the media men to see themselves as worthy ambassadors of Christ and as representatives of the entire body and all that the body stands for. He said: “See yourselves as representing the founding members of this body, dead and alive, and all those members who would have loved to come, but cannot make it. “Your choice and actions must not be limited to your interest, but be informed by the common good and the love of Christ and progress of this body.”

On the body’s elections, he urged the members to be open to the prompting of the Holy Spirit; to be sincere to themselves and their conscience, adding that anyone who is not capable or will not have time to perform the role, be honest and refuse to take up any position. Quoting him: “Positions in the Church are for service and not for self-glorification. Therefore, please vote only those who have all it takes, faith, maturity, experience, ability and time, to move the Catholic media apostolate forward. “Kindly note that, for us at the National Office, whoever your election process produces, is he who we will work with. We beg you to do it right and with the fear of God.”

In his address, Mr. Patrick Osu, National President, CAMPAN, said the theme for the convention, “Artificial Intelligence and Social Communications in the Catholic Church in Nigeria”, tallies with the theme of this year’s World Communications Day celebrations as declared by His Holiness, Pope Francis, which was carefully chosen to enhance and strengthen Social Communication in the various aspects of the life of the people. He said Catholic Media Practitioners’ Association of Nigeria was established among others, to mobilise Catholic Professionals in the media for the service of the Church in Nigeria and to initiate and promote inter-religious collaboration as well as encourage communications that promote Christian values, justice, peace and human rights.

He disclosed that during their tenure, he and his fellow executives worked tirelessly to foster unity and synergise with other organisations, such as the Muslim Media Association, Nigeria Inter-religious Council, the umbrella body, SIGNIS, Directors of Communications Association, and Catholic Actors’ and Entertainers’ Association of Nigeria. According to him, “All these were efforts geared towards building stronger relationships and promotion of peace and unity among the various groups. He added that the association is registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission.

Disclosing that training of members has been a source of worry, he said in order to keep updating the knowledge and skills of media professionals, the association must develop a training programme that would meet up with current challenges. He said the association had its last workshop in April 2021, in conjunction with Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria on improving communication strategies in the Catholic Church in Nigeria. According to him the group needs to create opportunities for training, and encourage professionalism, dedication and hard-work, especially among the younger ones as an impetus for future development. “Similarly, during this event, we have decided to honour people who in various ways have distinguished themselves to the course and aspirations of the association.” He called on the people to continue to support CAMPAN to do more, because the people rely on them for the truth, especially in this era of fake news and Social -Media challenges.

He said the group is committed to building a transformed society by shaping and changing the narrative in Nigeria, adding that the members are ever ready to partner and collaborate with any individual, group or association towards making a difference in every aspect of national development. Presenting a paper on the topic, “Social media as a tool for evangelisation”, Rev. Fr. Steve-Mario Edward, Assistant Director of Communication, Issele-Uku Diocese said “Evangelisation in this era is not just about preaching Christ to peoples, nations or countries, because everyone has been evangelized especially in our own environment. There is nobody who has not heard the Word. What this means is that our society has been evangelized but unfortunately, it has been equally secularized. It is therefore in the wake of the secularization of our world that evangelization becomes even more necessary; for the world needs a re-evaluation of values.”

According to Fr. Edward, there is nobody who has not heard the Word. What this means is that the society has been evangelised, but unfortunately, it has been equally secularised. He said it is therefore in the wake of the secularisation of the world that evangelisation becomes even more necessary, because the world needs a re-evaluation of values. He said, “According to Dr. Kevin Ori (Rev. Fr.), evangelisation in our time focuses on human hurts and liberation from all forms of oppression as well as the enhancement to human dignity. “Our world today needs liberation, but this can only be achieved if we rise to speak against injustice and oppression. Evil, wickedness and injustice continue unabated because good people have refused to speak. And I dare to say that if you are good and your goodness is not felt by others, if your goodness does not help or benefit anyone, then you are good for nothing.”

On the participation of media workers in evangelisation, Fr. Edward said: “Msgr. Fernando Ocáriz, Vicar General of Opus Dei, reflects on the role of lay people in evangelization, to which Catholic media workers belong, that is, transmitting the Gospel message, in the light of Vatican II. “According to him, one of the dimensions of the royal priesthood of the faithful, to which St. Peter refers (cf: 1 Pet 2:4-10), is the prophetic function: that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.

What is specific, therefore, to the Catholic media workers’ participation in the task of evangelization was expressed as follows by Vatican II in Lumen Gentium, 35: “Christ, the great Prophet, who proclaimed the Kingdom of his Father, both by the testimony of his life and the power of his words, continually fulfils his prophetic office until the complete manifestation of glory. “He does this not only through the hierarchy who teach in his name and with his authority, but also through the laity whom he made his witnesses and to whom he gave understanding of the faith (sensus fidei) and an attractiveness in speech so that the power of the Gospel might shine forth in their daily social and family life.”

The priest said the implication is that the evangelising capacity and responsibility (the munus propheticum) of the lay faithful, particularly Catholic media workers, is not delegated by the hierarchy, but comes directly from Jesus Christ, through Baptism and Confirmation. He said: “In other words, it is not your parish priest or the bishop that places on you the responsibility of spreading the gospel or witnessing. By virtue of your baptism and confirmation, you have become a preacher of the word, not on the pulpit, but by your life and wherever you find yourself.”

Lady Neta Nwosu, Editor, The Catholic Herald weekly newspaper and President, SIGNIS, Archdiocese of Lagos, utilised the opportunity of the event to present the oldest surviving newspaper to Very Rev. Fr. Charles Uganwa, Benin Provincial Coordinator of Social Communications and representative of Most Rev. Michael Elue, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Issele-Uku and Mrs. Ezinne Nwanze, Director of Finance, Delta State Ministry of Information and representative of the Delta State Governor. In commemoration of the centenary celebration, copies of The Catholic Herald weekly newspaper were distributed to the media practitioners. The newspaper was founded by late Bishop Ferdinand Terrien, SMA in 1924 as a national newspaper.


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