Villegas launches new group to focus on social media

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Archbishop Villegas sprinkles holy water on the staff and guests during the blessing of the Areopagus office last January 15.

MANILA, Jan. 17, 2014—Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Archbishop Socrates Villegas’ recent launching of a social media group under the CBCP Media Office signals the Church’s growing desire to reach a wider audience through new media platforms.

No more incense and candles 

“You know, the CBCP building smells like incense and candles, but the media cannot smell like incense and candles. It should smell like society, it must smell like the city…It should be where the action is,” said Archbishop Villegas during a holy mass to celebrate the official inauguration of Areopagus Social Media for Asia at its new office in Intramuros, Manila last January 15.

In a simple ribbon-cutting and blessing ceremony, which was attended by a few guests like former Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr., Archbishop Villegas explained how the CBCP Media Office, which will supervise the new social media group, has been a “baby” that the CBCP has “nurtured, made grow and formed” and how it is now ready to take on more challenges.

Far from being just a shift to a more “techie” mode, the move, according to Villegas, is grounded on the Gospel.

“The role of the media is not just the beautification of the Church. The role of the media is not just to make a good PR image about the Church. The goal of media is the transformation of society,” he added.

More than PR 

Archbishop Soc, as he is popularly called, also explained how media work should be tied to the mission of lay people in general.

“It is not the mission of lay people to beautify churches. It is the mission rather of lay people to beautify the world. Make sure that Christ is in the world,” he said.

Archbishop Villegas, who assumed office as head of the CBCP last December, was also quick to note Areopagus’ advantage over more mainstream media outfits.

“Although our group is quite small…This small group is a powerhouse not because we have gifted individuals manning the office, this is a powerhouse because Jesus is here,” he said.

Neither professional expertise, intelligence nor being media savvy, according to Villegas, is the group’s “power”, rather it is the divine presence of Jesus that will enable Areopagus to thrive in an industry that sometimes requires compromise of values or even complicity.

“We have Jesus here and we have been assured of His presence. And if Jesus is here what is there to fear?” he said.

Projects under Areopagus Social Media for Asia include the CBCP Online Radio, Impact magazine, Tapat News, Tapatan forum, as well as other online platforms. [Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz]

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