55th WCD: Bishop Okpaleke Emphasizes Person-to-Person Encounter

… Advises Journalists against Unconfirmed Reports

As the Church celebrates the 2021 Annual World Communications Day (WCD), the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Ekwulobia (CADEK), Most Rev Peter Ebere Okpaleke, has emphasized the need for person-to person and face-to-face encounter, so as to strengthen the bonds of human relationship.

Bishop Okpaleke stated this in his homily of the concelebrated Holy Mass last Sunday, May 16, to mark the maiden matriculation ceremony of the Catholic Diocese of Awka-owned St John Innovation Institute of Management and Technology (JIIMATECH), Neni, Anaocha LGA, Anambra State, which providentially fell on the 55th World Communications Day.

Reflecting on the Church’s theme for the 55th WCD: “Come and See (Jn 1:46)”, Communicating by Encountering People Where and As They Are, the bishop urged all to in line with the message of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, get closer to one another to see the challenges which face each other and grow the bond which human beings share.

Most Rev Okpaleke, who agreed to the fact that Information Communication Technologies (ICT) and various social media platforms have compressed space and time, and made communication and information dissemination easy, however, regretted that ICT and modern means of communication have caused relationship with one another to be relegated to the background.

He called on all to encounter one another just as Nathaniel encountered Jesus Christ, and by so doing, balance the means of communication. According to him, the so-called old-fashioned way of spreading the Good News on a one-to-one basis, has real value and must be sustained.

‘The encounter that comes from person-to-person or heart-to-heart interaction is richer, more nuanced, and more capable of transformation for good. Despite the dominance and ease of technological mediation of reality, we must not lose sight of the fact. We must come out of our comfort zones and come close to one another. This is the first step towards care. Indeed, it is only by coming close that we can absorb the details that constitute the particularity of persons, events, and places. Thus, while harnessing the information, communication technologies for the dissemination of the Good News, the importance of one-to-one, person-to-person encounter must not be lost sight of,’ the bishop stated.

The Catholic prelate, who also condemned the rate at which communicators circulated fake news, especially via the social media, kicked against the circulation of false stories.

Bishop Okpaleke advised journalists against what he identified as unconfirmed news reporting. He charged media practitioners to devote time to investigative journalism so as to dig out true issues and not to resort to circulation of unascertained information.