Pope Francis, others task media on objectivity

Ukamaka Okafor, Abuja

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The Catholic Pontiff has urged the Media to ensure objectivity in their reportage.

Pope Francis was speaking at the 55th World Communications Day Celebration.

Meanwhile  in Nigeria, the celebration was greeted with a huge gathering of faithful at Our Lady Queen of Nigeria, Pro Cathedral, Abuja, Nigeria,  with Media Practitioners joining their counterpart across the globe to mark the event.

The Archbishop of Abuja Archdiocese, Most Reverend Ignatius Kaigama reminded that Information is Power and when properly communicated, edifies and builds the society for peace to thrive globally. 

Project modern media communication as an asset that could help advance peace and order, but at the same time it can be used to instigate violence; it can also fuel prejudice and contempt between individuals and among peoples. 

Kaigama quoted the Pope as saying, “the risk of misinformation being spread on social media has become evident to everyone. We have known for some time that news and even images can be easily manipulated for any number of reasons…” In communicating, we must ensure objectivity, respect for human rights and dignity, the common good; avoiding hostility and confusion. There must be a responsible and accountable use of the media or else we breed anarchy and chaos.

The Holy Father enjoins media practitioners to resist the temptation of the manipulative use of the media by stirring tensions and heating up the polity to favour or satisfy certain interests at the expense of truth and objectivity.

 “This will not bring to society the needed light, hope, consolation, healing, growth and progress. Today, we see all manner of half truths or bare lies in the social media, like the type that led to late Miss Iniubong Umoren, a 26-year-old graduate of the University of Uyo job seeker who responded to a fake job advertisement, only to meet her brutal death. May her soul rest in peace” he said.

Archbishop Kaigama also called on the politicians in Nigeria and Africa to imbibe free and fair election and eschew electoral violence.

Citing today’s gospel taken from Saint John’s gospel chapter 17, verses11 to 19, at the manner of election demonstrated to elect the successor of Judas Iscariot, where the apostles relied on scripture and prayed to find a replacement for Judas,  Kaigama noted that it is a lesson for contemporary politics in Africa to engage in a peaceful election, without electoral manipulation, partiality, or ungodly conduct.

The election was based purely on merit, the person was to be a consistent follower of Jesus, throughout Jesus’ ministry, up to the day of His ascension. Two men were put forward. There was no lobbying; internal democracy was at play. The group prayed for guidance, proclaimed their trust in God and went on to cast lots and the lot fell on Matthias who became one of the Apostles.

The quest to win by hook or by crook and the winner takes all syndrome explains why in a Local Government election in a State where a party has a sitting Governor, it is nearly always certain that their party will clear all the available seats, and this is often what lays the foundation for electoral violence, and the extravagant use of power and resources

Speaking further, the Chief Shepherd of the Abuja Catholic Archdiocese prayed for Nigerian leaders at all level for transformation as the Church prepares to celebrate this year’s Pentecost next Sunday.

“Today’s Gospel, Jesus prayed, “Holy Father, keep them in your name” (Jn. 17:11), namely, that the Father may keep us away from persecution and protect us against the attacks of Satan; to sanctify us in truth so as to be able to withstand evil. Jesus’ prayed for the unity of all Christians: “…that they may all be one…” the type of unity we prayed for when Christians in the FCT organized in January the prayer for Christian unity, rotating services each day in different denominational churches.

Let us add our prayer intentions today: we pray that the Lord will elicit in our leaders the sincere passion for service and a genuine quest for justice to salvage our dear country; we pray that during elections our votes will count; we pray that our youths will find employment; criminality to stop; political leaders to see the common good rather than parochial political interests; God to help our elected and public officials to be more patriotic and efficient so that religious leaders should be more concerned with prayers for the nation and explaining the word of God, instead of focusing on divisive prophetic political prognosis.

As we prepare for the celebration of Pentecost next Sunday, let us pray for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon us, that as “God has loved us so we must have the same love for one another” (1 Jn. 4:11) and to love our country without counting the cost”. Kaigama added.

The 2021 World Communications Day is with the theme: “Come and See” taken from Saint John’s gospel 1:46, Communicating by Encountering People Where and as They Are”.