National Officers' Reports October 2015
Reports include: National Vice President, Media
Proclaim '15 - Key messages
How are we measuring up to the call to: "Go, therefore to all nations, baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you (Mt 28.19)"
This question of how are we measuring up is not new. It was posed in December 1962 as a plan for the entire Second Vatican Council under Pope John XXIII. It was followed by this remark:"In order to respond to the Saviour's command the whole Church must be put on a missionary footing."
Our mission starts in our prayer; it cannot start anywhere else.
In recent years, since the Second Vatican Council, we have talked of the Church as a "communio" - a communion or even as a community. This has little depth unless the word "communio" refers first of all the life of God. The Church is a "communio" in and through the communion of life of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Only because we have been drawn, together, into that life are we a community. We are not a group of like-minded people who agree a programme of action. We are participants together in the mystery of God. Parishes are not really communities unless they are rooted in the "communio" of the life of God.
Pope Francis' favourite description for us is "missionary disciples". Disciples, because we are focussed on Christ. Missionary because we are sharing his mission. He is sending us into the world. And for this he gives us his Holy Spirit who (a) precedes us wherever we may go, or be sent and (b) will give us the gifts we need.
There is a movement called "Mother's Prayers". It started quietly some years ago now, with just one anguished mother, and has spread to over 30, or is it 40, countries. It is what it says: the prayers of mothers for their children and for each other. It has spread entirely without deliberation, just by the power of example and providence. Here are some of their axioms:
He sends us into the world. Where might that be? To whom are we being sent?
First, to our colleagues who have lost their way. These can be fellow Catholics who are resting: all those who cross the threshold of the church just every now and then. They have heard of Jesus; they have some of the words; they have a familiarity, of sorts, with the Church.
Second, to the curious. Curiosity, even if tinged with hostility, can be a marvellous opportunity if we are open ourselves and remember that within that curiosity may well lie the prompting of the Holy Spirit. If we forget that, then we are quickly on the defensive and the moment has gone. Curiosity often arises out of a sense of wanting something more, a sense of emptiness. This is how some feel today, unsure about the deeper meaning of their lives, about what they stand for, beyond their loved ones or their possessions.
Third, to heed the cry of the human heart; the cry of confusion, pain, hunger, loneliness, need, anger. Pope Francis: ?"The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness." He added that our mission is always about bringing back together all that is broken, working for the deepest unity, to counter "widespread individualism" which divides us and sets us against one another (Ev G 99).
Proclaim '15 is a point in an important journey. It is not a short sprint. It is a long haul. Helping our parishes to become missionary parishes, communities of evangelisation, rooted in the mystery of God and sharing in the mission of Jesus himself, is a long process.
But the next step, what might it be?
The Pope has asked for a Jubilee Year of Mercy, beginning in December. Let that guide our choice of what to do next. Let that theme guide us in the steps we decide to take.
The next year of this Proclaim process can be "Proclaim Mercy". We can look at all we are given and see which of these rich gifts helps us to proclaim the mercy of God, not least in response to the cry of the world.
Remember the Spiritual Works of Mercy - Admonish the sinner; instruct the ignorant; counsel the doubtful; comfort the sorrowful; bear wrongs patiently; forgive all injuries; pray for the living and the dead. These are the loving responses to the needs of the heart and soul deep within every human being!
Remember the Corporal Works of Mercy - Feed the hungry; give drink to the thirsty; clothe the naked; shelter the homeless; visit the sick; visit the imprisoned and bury the dead. These are the responses of loving faith to the physical needs which cause many to cry out. When given they are never forgotten and often lead a person on the pathway to Christ.
These are but some aspects of mercy which we can proclaim in the year ahead in response to those who cry out.
Our colleagues, outside the threshold of the church: invite them to enter with us through the Door of Mercy which will be set up in many churches. Practicing Catholics, I suggest, should only go through the Door of Mercy when they are bringing another person who is making a fresh journey to the Lord, a return journey to their heavenly Father. The activities of this Year, the "Pilgrimage of Mercy" to which Pope Francis is calling us must not be another devotion but a time for reaching out to those to whom we are being sent.
And the curious - they will be astonished at the offer of mercy and forgiveness, just as the world wondered at the generosity of heart of the Christians of Charlesville who forgave the murderer who entered their church will the sole intention of killing.
Anne Emblem National Vice President
Media Watch - UK
Media Watch - UK, continue to work towards monitoring and campaigning for a safer and more responsible approach by the various Media companies to protect us from material that is of a very doubtful nature, especially for the children and young people who are growing up in the digital age.
Social media overtakes entertainment as favourite online activity
has overtaken entertainment as the UK's favourite activity online, accounting
for almost a fifth of the two hours and 51 minutes a day people in the UK on
average spend on the web. Social media use - including time on sites such as
Reddit or Gawker Media that are built on blog platforms - accounted for nearly
17% of all time online, up from 12.2% a year ago, according to research
commissioned by the Internet Advertising Bureau. Over the same period, the
amount of time spent online on entertainment such as watching TV shows or
YouTube videos and listening to music has almost halved from 22.1% to 12.4%.
The shift appears to be in part driven by people spending more time on their
mobiles, as on desktops entertainment accounts for 18% of time online compared
to just 8% on smartphones and tablets such as the iPad.
The Guardian 2/9/2015
Websites and apps aimed at children are gathering unacceptable amounts of personal data, the Information Commissioner's Office has warned. The UK's data protection agency took part in an international investigation looking at almost 1,500 websites popular with young people. It found that one in five asked for phone numbers or pictures."These are concerning results," said Adam Stevens, head of the ICO's intelligence hub.The investigation looked at how websites were harvesting large amounts of personal information, with half sharing children's data with third parties.
Lack of control
The research, co-ordinated by the Global Privacy Enforcement Network, an international umbrella group for privacy regulators, found concerns with 41% of the websites examined.There were 50 UK-based websites among those investigated.The study has not identified the names of the websites and apps, but Mr Stevens said they would be contacted and action could be taken against them to enforce changes.It found that more than two in three gathered names and email addresses, with this information being passed on to other websites.Less than a third of the websites had "effective control" of the information collected from children, and less than a quarter encouraged parental involvement.Only a minority of websites had an accessible way for families to delete information that had been submitted.Mr Stevens said: "These are concerning results. The attitude shown by a number of these websites and apps suggested little regard for how anyone's personal information should be handled, let alone that of children."Internationally, we saw some websites and apps gathering more information than we felt they needed, and sharing that data with third parties."The most common concern domestically was a lack of information being provided about how their information would be used."We saw generic privacy policies that simply weren't specific enough, and some without any information at all, which isn't good enough."We'll now be writing out to the sites and apps that caused us concern, making clear the changes we expect them to make. "We wouldn't rule out enforcement action in this area if required."
Keeping up with their friends online is fuelling disturbed sleep, depression and anxiety among teenagers, according to researchers.
The fear of missing out on social media - referred to as FOMO by the internet-savvy younger generation - means teenagers are under greater pressure to stay connected for as long as possible.
Around 90 per cent of adolescents are estimated to have a presence on social media, and those who stay glued to gadgets well into the night are most at risk of developing emotional problems, the study found. These could then be carried over into adulthood because teenagers are particularly at risk of developing long-term issues.
Dr Heather Cleland Woods, from Glasgow University, said: "Adolescence can be a period of increased vulnerability for the onset of depression and anxiety and poor sleep quality may contribute to this." Her study - which is being presented today at a British Psychological Society conference in Manchester - questioned 467 teenagers on their overall and night-time social media use.
Further tests looked at sleep quality, and the pressure they felt under to be available on sites such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp around the clock.
They revealed that overall social media use, night-time specific use and emotional investment all had a "significant" impact on quality of sleep, as well as being linked with higher levels of depression and anxiety. The average dip in sleep quality was 13.5 per cent.
Dr Cleland Woods added: "While overall social media use impacts on sleep quality, those who log on at night appear to be particularly affected. ?This may be mostly true of individuals who are highly emotionally invested, and means we have to think about how kids use social media, in relation to time for switching off."
Recent research from public health officials in Canada also found a link between social media use and psychological problems .A study of 700 secondary school pupils in Ottawa found that those with poor mental health were three times as likely to use social network sites for more than two hours a day as those with no problems.
Caroline Mills National Media Officer
List of Intentions the Pope wants to focus on for the month of March