Archbishop Datuk John Wong 

By Joe Leong

May 22 2020

KOTA KINABALU – Head of the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu in Sabah has acknowledged that the social media is a gift of God for enhancing communication, connecting relationships and the sharing of knowledge.

“Nevertheless, as in the case of everything man-made, this gift is subjected to abuse and misuse that could generate fear, distrust and despair,” says Archbishop John Wong in a special message released here today to mark the 54th World Communications Day that falls on Sunday, May 24.

Therefore, one has to be extra vigilant not to be taken in by unverified news and stories which are viraled every other second.

The theme selected by Pope Francis, the head of the universal Catholic Church, is of storytelling, using a quotation from the book of Exodus in the Bible, “That you may tell your children and grandchildren,” (Ex 10:2) in his message for the occasion this year.

The pope stated in his message that life is a continuous process of communication, of relating with each other the good stories… stories that help us rediscover our roots and strength to move forward.

He too has a word of warning, “Not all stories are good, if they are aimed to exploit, to deceive and to stop others of their human dignity.”

The pope urges Catholics around the globe on the occasion of World Communications Day, to seek for wisdom, courage, patience and good discernment in order to reject what is false and evil.

Archbishop Wong says that with the enforcement of the movement control order (MCO) by the government in Malaysia, many people resort to the use of the social media to maintain relationships and to pass time.

“It is a blessing in disguise because family bonds are strengthened or restored. The surge in social media usage shows that people hunger to communicate, to share stories and to get updates.

“However, the coronavirus infodemic, as the World Health Organisation (WHO) described it, has brought about large-scale confusion as to which stories are authentic and which are inverified rumours and exagerated claims regarding the pandemic.

“It is understandable that during times of emergency and crisis, critical questions are asked and require immediate response.

“One has to be extra vigilant not to be taken in by unverified news and stories which are viraled every other second,” says Archbishop John Wong in his 54th WCD message.

Traditionally the Catholic Church celebrates the WCD on the 7th Sunday of Easter, which this year falls on May 24.