“IN-LINE RELIGION”: INNOVATIVE PASTORAL APPLICATIONS OF THE NEW INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES (NICTS) BY THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN NIGERIA
In my researches in the field of media religion and culture, I have made extensive comparative analyses of the Catholic and Pentecostal churches in Nigeria and their different communication strategies. This paper highlights the appropriation of the new information and communication technologies by these two Christian denominations in Nigeria. Special attention is paid to the Catholic Church, because, unlike the Pentecostal denominations which see media technologies as an extension of the church pulpit, the Catholic Church has generally exhibited a somewhat cold attitude towards these instruments of mass communication. This attitude goes back to the advent of cinema which the Church’s hierarchy then saw as having the potential of corrupting faith and moral. The Catholic Church has remained largely a print-based Church, investing most of her communication energy in the print media and in oral catechism. But in recent years, this negative attitude of the Church has started to change. Of all the technologies of mass communication, none has been so instantly accepted and embraced by the Catholic Church as the new information and communication technologies. Using the Mater Cyberworld, (a cyber-café founded by the Ahiara Mbaise Catholic Diocese in Eastern Nigeria), as a case, this paper highlights some distinctive characteristics of the Catholic Church’s involvement in the new information and communication technologies. The analysis shows that this media appropriation is one of the means through which the Catholic Church establishes a strong presence in the Nigerian socio-political sphere.
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