KENINGAU – The two-day annual meeting of the Regional Commission for Social Communications (RCSC) of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, concluded on Thursday, 21 June 2018 with a 12-point plan of action for the coming year.
The meeting was attended by 23 members, representatives and observers from the Archdioceses of Kuala Lumpur, Kuching, Kota Kinabalu and Singapore, and the Dioceses of Penang, Johor-Melaka, Sibu, Sandakan, Keningau as well as the Apostolic Vicariate of Brunei.
Bishop Cornelius Sim of the Vicariate of Brunei, who is also the RCSC president, was in attendance throughout the meeting, together with Father Robert Leong (Brunei), Father Thomas Madanan (Kota Kinabalu and RCSC Chairperson), and Father Peter Anthoney (Kuala Lumpur).
Among other RCSC delegates were Sister Anna Yap, fsp, Asst Chairperson, Ignatius Krishnan and Joyce Ting, RCSC Secretariat; and Adeline James, SIGNIS Malaysia representative.
Bishop Cornelius Piong of Diocese of Keningau presided the opening Mass, which was followed by the keynote address by Bishop Cornelius Sim. In his keynote address, Bishop Sim emphasised on Pope Francis’s 2018 World Communications Day Message – Fake news and journalism for peace. Bishop Sim reinforced the theme of the 52nd World Communications Day which focuses on the issue of truth. It is not the first time the Church addresses this issue, but in this current time, the rampant issue is ‘fake news,’ which runs counter to Church’s mission, which is to spread the Truth.
The bishop said that communicators and providers of information are custodians of truth. Social Communications of the Church at various levels can play an integral role in offering an alternate voice to the people of the world by practising and ensuring use of accurate sources. Accurate sources is a way of promoting goodness and generating truth which opens the way to communion and peace. Furthermore, in countering fake news, formation and information have to take place among the people.
In summary, Bishop Sim stated that the World Communications Day message centred on the dignity and beauty of the human person and its ability to communicate the truth of the human person living for the benefit of all. This is a crucial aspect of ‘Media Mindfulness.’ Preserving human dignity is the lens through which Catholics can engage this digital mediascape that is always changing and always developing.
Francis Andin, president of Keningau Journalist Association of Sabah continued on this subject in his sharing session “Sharing on Fake News,” speaking more on the spread through WhatsApp and edited photos depicting false impressions.
Ruben Sario, delegate from Kota Kinabalu, shared on fake news which tend to falsely quote or misquote the pope. On countering fake news which comes in the form of messages about the pope or the church, he advised that people should stop and think before forwarding the messages. The faithful in Archdiocese of KK are encouraged to check with the parish priest and if not available, people should check the authenticity of the information with mainstream credible media.
Representatives from various dioceses in the region had the opportunity to present a report on implementation of plans, programmes, and activities in their respective arch/diocese in the past year. It was from these reports that they saw the need for collaboration between social communication ministries in different dioceses mainly in the area of:
a) Bible Knowledge – to find a way to assist the Sabah/Sarawak dioceses with Bible Knowledge class that is conducted in English. Webinar session might be one possible delivery method.
b) Live Streaming/Broadcast – to assist those Arch/dioceses that do have any broadcast of Mass especially for those who are homebound.
c) Webinars on formation programmes – to further instill learning among Catholics in various dioceses, in faith and spiritual subject, through webinars from those dioceses who has the webinar facilities.
d) Google for Non-Profit – to assist other dioceses with the adaptation of Google for Non Profit which can be used to create standardisation and to reduce operational issues within dioceses.
e) Kupi Rohani (Daily Reflection in the Malay language) – to assist Keningau diocese in circulating the Kupi Rohani to other dioceses, especially those who has large influx of East Malaysians in their dioceses.
In total there were 10 points for the plan for action in 2018-2019 by all the delegates including addressing all the possible area of collaboration between various arch/dioceses.
Bishop Cornelius Sim presided over the Closing Mass in thanksgiving for the conference. He also thanked all the members, representatives and observers for their attendance and participation.
The next Regional Meeting is scheduled to take place at Majodi, Johor which will be hosted by the Diocese of Melaka-Johor on 17-20 June 2019.