Almaty (Agenzia Fides) - "The Church in Central Asia and in particular in Kazakhstan has put among its priorities the development of the communication sector as a specific and functional area to promote knowledge, nature and the mission of the Church itself. There was a need for a constant exchange of experiences and knowledge between the national reality and the diocesan offices, in order to facilitate the sharing of information and possibly get in touch with young people and adults, in many cases, already accustomed to the world of means of communication".
This is what the Diocese of Almaty declares, in a note sent to Agenzia Fides, regarding the cycle of webinars entitled "Social media for Evangelization in Central Asia", held on 1-5 February. The project organized by the diocese of Almaty and supported by the Pontifical Missionary Union, involved the Catholic communities of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, reaching more than sixty pastoral workers, volunteers, religious, young university students.
"In Central Asia - the note continues - it is necessary that, as Pope Francis says, 'the mission of the Church adapts to the times and uses the modern tools that technology makes available. It is a question of entering the modern Areopagus to announce God's mercy and goodness'.
To respond to this need, the formation seminar 'Social media for Evangelization in Central Asia' was born with the idea of training young people and pastoral workers, in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and other Central Asian nations, to the knowledge and use of digital tools, by fostering a mentality that considers communication and the mass media as an opportunity for the proclamation and dissemination of the Gospel".
The objective of the webinars, as we learn from the note, was to provide "theoretical and practical skills on online communication and the use of social media, and other web tools". The training was held by professionals in the sector connected from Italy. It provided for the deepening of methods and techniques with a view to the design of a communication strategy on social media, with the specific perspective of the use of these tools for Evangelization.
The document further underlines the importance of a full knowledge of digital means of communication, both on a personal and professional level: "Web surfing can turn into an insidious adventure, faced with unconscious levity: it is therefore necessary to have an adequate knowledge of the tools, logic and languages typical of the digital world. Moreover, this knowledge can have important consequences in an ever more connected world of work and within a Church which has to deal with these new virtual places of aggregation. This phenomenon is all the more felt within society, among the youth and in the Catholic community in Kazakhstan, which today feels the need to deepen these aspects through training that delves into the nature, use and potential of the tools present in the digital world".
Catholics represent a minority in Central Asia, a predominantly Muslim geographic area in which the Church was reborn with the fall of the USSR and with the end of religious persecution that followed. To date, Kazakhstan has 70 parishes, Uzbekistan 5, Kyrgyzstan 3 and Tajikistan 2 while in Turkmenistan, some 250 faithful gather in the Chapel of the Transfiguration of the Lord, located in the capital, Ashgabat. (LF) (Agenzia Fides, 6/2/2021)