Asian bishops stress the need to reach out to young people on Facebook and TikTok

Church leaders – priests and bishops – need to learn how to use different social media platforms, including Facebook and TikTok, to be able to reach young people.

November 11, 2022

Josephine Tan, a youth representative from Singapore, speaks at the general conference of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences in Thailand on October 18, 2022. (FABC Handout)

By Jose Torres JR
“We need to evangelize young people where they are,” said Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon, president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC).

“Where are the young people? They are on the internet, on Facebook,” the cardinal said in response to a question posed by LiCAS News on the sidelines of the recently concluded FABC meeting in Thailand.

He said church leaders in the region “discussed that church leaders will need to learn how to use media, like Facebook.”

“Of course, the pandemic has taught us very well. We need to use online preaching,” Cardinal Bo said, adding that “we are learning a lot about this.”

“Church leaders will need to resume preaching online, especially, to reach young people,” the cardinal said. “We have to be where the young people are,” he said.

Gregory Pravin, a youth ministry worker from the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur, explained how the pandemic has left people “living in a digital and individualistic world, self-sufficient, with no hunger for the Lord.”

He challenged Church leaders to change the narrative from “youth are absent” to “I am absent from the youth” and to be “more than shepherds” and “to become seekers.”

Pravin stressed the need to create new structures and to develop tools and methods that will guide young people “towards the fullness of the experience of the Church”.

Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay, co-organizer of the FABC general conference, said church leaders in the region “are aware of young people.”

He said that for the FABC, young people “are very important” and that their concerns are a “very important component” of the “planning, action and vision” of the conference.

“We want young people to be with us in any project. They are our full partners and everything,” Cardinal Gracias said.

The Indian cardinal said youth will be a “very important component” in the final declaration at the end of the 18-day conference.

“We are very aware of the importance of youth, their generosity, their authenticity and their eagerness to do something to change Asia. They are our indispensable partners in all our work,” he said.

“We plan to deliver a message to Asia…some commitment that we hope to make, and certainly the FABC…will implement what we are discussing here,” the cardinal said.

Father Akira Takayama, youth ministry chaplain for Takamatsu Diocese in Japan, said priests should listen to young people “and be re-evangelized.”

He said the youth should not be seen as “just a working group” and expressed hope that elders and church leaders will provide spiritual guidance.

During the FABC plenary session titled “Youth: A Voice for the Church,” Josephine Tan, a youth representative from Malaysia, expressed the hope of young people to be part of the gathering.

“We really want to be of service to Christ and (I) hope that everyone (in the meeting) will give us (us) the opportunity to share the Gospel with the whole world,” she said.

In his message at the start of the FABC conference, Pope Francis urged the federation to “renew the Churches in Asia in fraternal communion and in missionary zeal for the spreading of the Gospel among peoples, cultures and rich social realities of the vast Asian continent. LiCAS News

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