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Cebu prelate urges caution in use of Facebook

/ 05:09 PM April 07, 2012

CEBU CITY, Philippines—Be responsible in using social networking sites.

This was the appeal of Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma in the wake of the controversy that rocked a Catholic school which barred five students from attending their graduation rites for posting pictures of themselves in bikinis on Facebook.

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In a recent dialog with the young Catholics, Palma pointed out that Pope Benedict XVI encouraged the youth to use contemporary means of communication to bring the message of Jesus Christ to different people.

“But technical progress [in communication] should go hand in hand with ethical progress,” said Palma, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, during the 27th World Youth Day celebration on March 31, at a campus of the University of San Jose Recoletos here.

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“These ways have their limits and should be used within the bounds of ethics,” he said.

Officials of Saint Theresa’s College were sued after they barred five students from attending the graduation ceremonies last March 30 for their Facebook postings.

During the dialog, Jose Ismael Ioalina, a 21-year-old delegate from the Cebu archdiocese’s seventh district, asked the archbishop if he had a Facebook account.

Palma apologized for not having one, saying he had enough difficulty answering all the e-mails and text messages he received.

He urged the young people to be mindful of how much time they spend on social networking sites, as these may steal the time they should be using “for studies if you are a student, for prayer and for many other important things.”

The prelate reminded the youths that although they can limit the people who visit their sites through privacy settings, there is no guarantee that what they post will remain private.

“There is the possibility that these [personal data] will still be seen by others,” the archbishop said.

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Palma said, however, that those who correct social networking subscribers for posting unhelpful communication should be “extra considerate and extra diplomatic.”

He said correcting those who post offensive communication can worsen the situation if the offenders hear words “which hurt, which are insulting.”

“Even the truth, if it is not stated in a way that is community-building, community-forming,  then it is better not to say it,” Palma said.

As a general rule, Palma said, “make good use of all the contemporary ways of communication, but make sure that technical advancement is accompanied by ethical advancement, and what you communicate is community-building and community-forming.”

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TAGS: Church, Facebook, Internet, Social networking
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