Redemptorists urge ‘social media responsibility’

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A devotee lights a candle in honor of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. (Photo: James Benedict Malabanan)

PARAÑAQUE City, March 7, 2016 – Days after finding itself the target of an online smear campaign, the Redemptorist-run National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help (OMPH) in Baclaran appeals to netizens worldwide to be responsible users of social media even as they exercise their right to free expression.

“We are in no way questioning the grace of God giving the opportunity for us all to broadcast our opinions and observations, but may we be reminded not leave out our sense of social responsibility,” church spokespersons said in an open letter through their Social Mission Team.

The shrine also grabbed the opportunity to defend Jenny Arteta whose viral update on March 1 about an unverified incident unfavorable to its image sparked a Facebook “word war” which took on a life of its own and backfired on her.

No to invectiveness

“With the mounting attacks on the person of Ms. Jenny for the mistake she did not intentionally foresee, the Social Mission Team would like to caution the public of the way we may again use the new media with a twisted sense of freedom,” it said, describing the poster as a “good person.”

“We urge the public to stop sentiments of invectiveness on Ms. Jenny as she is our sister and belongs to the household of God. May we train our energies to restoring the original justice of creation and eventually participate in the liberation and healing of the world,” it added.

As a sign of goodwill, Arteta visited the national shrine Saturday, March 5, to dialogue with its representatives as well as to express contrition for the mishap.

In a recent post, she shared she has learned her lesson, albeit the hard way, and invited those who jumped on the bandwagon to also see the experience as a wakeup call for all.

Lesson learned

“I learned a lot because of what happened. ‘Think before you click.’ Yes, I agree and accept that as a challenge. But please take note this goes both ways,” she explained.

According to the shrine speakers, Arteta’s coming to the Redemptorist Church to convey her personal apology to the priests and brothers confirmed her inoffensive character.

“Ms. Jenny, we salute you. It takes courage to come to the people who resented you, but nevertheless have forgiven you in advance even before you came. For that you showed us again the tremendous validity and need for mercy in the world. Perhaps that is exactly what Pope Francis says about ‘global compassion and forgiveness.’ The entire planet is in need of restoration and healing,” they explained.

Justice-centered programs

The social mission team went on to underscore the important service it has been giving since the 1980s, especially to the poor and needy: Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation.

“Justice sets the direction of all the service programs which you have come to know and visit personally,” it told Arteta.

These are as follows:

  • St. Gerard Family Life Center gives guidance and counseling to strengthen family life;
  • Crisis Intervention Center renders emergency assistance;
  • Medical and Dental Services responds to basic health needs;
  • Solidarity Assistance Committee provides calamity assistance;
  • Redemptorist Education Assistance Program gives scholarship;
  • Sarnelli Center for School Children helps street children readjust their lives and become responsible members of their families and communities;
  • Redemptorist Skills Training and Livelihood Program gives skills training to the poor to help them improve their economic condition; and
  • St. John Neumann Center for Migrants helps migrants and their families cope with the social costs of migration.

The letter continues: “Our service for migrants for instance is not to help secure OFWs speedy placement abroad. We see that injustice is behind the internally and externally displaced in the Philippines. Our workers are generally treated without honor and dignity in many ways. Big business has more rights than human beings. Indeed, this is a heartless dominated capitalist system world. Our service programs are our humble contribution to bring the element of care and concern (heart) in the world.

For the complete text, visit: https://www.facebook.com/omphbaclaran/posts/478872492314748.

(Raymond A. Sebastián / CBCP News)

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