English Africa Service – Vatican City
“We give special recognition and appreciation to our Holy Father, Pope Francis, for the great interest he has shown to the communication apostolate of the Church. The reforms that he initiated in the Vatican Media are yielding positive fruit. We pledge to collaborate with the Holy Father and the Prefect of the Dicastery, Doctor Paolo Ruffini, to ensure that communication is efficiently integrated into the life and mission of the Church,” read the final communiqué released and signed on behalf of participants, by the SIGNIS Africa President and Secretary, Prof. Fr. Walter Ihejirika and Fr. Dieudonne Kofi Davor, respectively.
Cardinal Souraphiel Berhaneyesus officially opened the gathering
More than one hundred Catholic communicators from across Africa met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from the 3 to 7 September for the SIGNIS Africa Assembly. Addis Ababa’s Metropolitan Archbishop, Cardinal Souraphiel Berhaneyesus together with SIGNIS World President, Helen Osman, graced the continental event. Also present were officials from the Holy See’s Dicastery for Communication and the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. Four African Bishops also participated in the meeting together with guests from the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), Caritas Africa and CAMECO.
SIGNIS is the world Catholic association for communications whose members are national associations grouped by regions of the world. SIGNIS has a presence in more than 100 countries.
The digital age has come with opportunities and challenges
The theme of the assembly was, “The African Youth in the Digital World; Promoting Creativity for Integral Development.” It was a discussion that premises from the fact that the digital age has come with opportunities and challenges and the youth need to be guided in their interaction with the ever-changing media environment.
SIGNIS Africa says that the youth on the continent cannot be expected to remain bystanders in the face of new digital technologies. Africa’s young people should be helped to become protagonists and artisans of their destinies, the meeting observed.
Protecting young people from online criminality and religious radicalisation
According to the discussants, young people are a vulnerable group that needs protection from online criminality, child abuse and religious radicalisation.
Some of the resolutions and actions to be taken by the Catholic Communicators, on the continent, include harnessing the creativity of young people and promoting digital and media literacy. The importance of Africa telling her own stories was also discussed at length.
Lastly, members in Addis Ababa resolved to improve the structure and visibility of SIGNIS at local, national, regional and continental levels.