The Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong has been waiting for a new bishop for more than a year. The See has been vacant since the death of Bishop Michael Yeung Ming-cheung on 3 January 2019. Some of the most shared news on social media in the recent times has been speculation about possible candidates along with their merits and flops.
What are the sources of this information? Many of them cite “a senior cleric of the diocese.” Respected news agencies like the Catholic News Agency (CNA) have repeatedly run speculative stories on the topic and practically committing character assassination.
In the latest article by Ed Condon, it calls someone “a pro-Beijing hawk.” What do they intend to gain from such journalism? This is not Catholic Journalism.
The mission of every Catholic media agency is same as that of mission of the Church—to participate in the building of God’s Kingdom. Any attempt to divide the people of God through irresponsible journalism is uncalled for and it is against its own mission.
What CNA has done in its previous reports—which might charitably be termed, clickbait—on the Church in Hong Kong has only served to divide the faithful and create animosity among them towards some of the priests.
Looking at the repeated reports from such media agencies, we believe that there is a smear campaign doing the rounds, which is anti-Pope Francis, anti-Vatican, anti-Provisional Agreement.
The attempt means to thwart any effort by the Vatican that is not palatable and to create hatred and tension within and between the clergy and the faithful. It tends to generate opinions among the faithful that the Vatican and Pope Francis are pro-communist!
Concepts of dialogue, mercy, forgiveness and compassion are not easily appreciated, because they have little news value. Divisions, tensions and power struggle are juicy items for media because these items find greater market value.
Ed Condon and CNA are definitely doing a disservice to the Church in Hong Kong and China.
The secular news media runs stories according to their editorial policy. These policies depend on business interests, political or religious affiliations, commercial or financial dependencies, and so on. For example, one would not expect Fox News to criticise the president of the United States, Donald Trump, nor the Global Times to criticise the president of China, Xi Jinping!
The attempt by these so-called Catholic agencies to criticise and divide should be sceptically viewed as part of a bigger game plan. They try to label priests as pro-Vatican and pro-Beijing. They want someone who is neither of these: someone who is not much liked by the Vatican and also not in the good books of Beijing!
Rumours and fake news find their best haven in the social media network. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram are all excellent platforms for getting your views across regions and peoples, but one can become trapped in a web of rumours and falsehood.
Catholic readership present on social media must be extremely cautious on what to “like”, “share” and “comment” upon. Social media makes everyone “journalists.” Catholics have a noble responsibility of being Catholic Journalists, communicating the love of God.
It is worth recalling that Pope Francis denounced gossip as a form of “terrorism” and warned against telling lies.
“We all live by communicating and we are continuously on the edge between truth and lies. Gossipers are terrorists because with their tongues they drop a bomb and then leave, and the bomb they drop destroys reputations everywhere. Don’t forget: to gossip is to kill,” he said. jose