Udupi, Nov 28: “The artificial intelligence and the social media rule the world today and they have made inroads into faith arena too. Hence, we cannot ignore them but rather know them and use them prudently and become missionaries in the digital world,” said Dr Gerald Isaac Lobo, the bishop of Udupi diocese inaugurating a day-long workshop on artificial intelligence and the church, public relations and the pastors, crisis management and professionalism in a changing world.
It was all inclusive, inter-religious and synodal method that the organisers observed in its prayer song, inaugural, participation and presentation. The workshop was jointly organised by the commissions for social communications and education. The participants were the priests and religious of Udupi diocese, heads of educational institutions under CESU, media mentors of Udupi diocese and a couple of media persons.
Amith Prabhu, a well-known public relations and reputation management professional, Gurgaon, New Delhi, was the main resource person.
Amith spoke on the fundamentals of public relations. He said, "The PR plays a major role whether in multi-national company, educational institution or church in promoting business and fostering a work culture. The church or priests are not an exception to it. Hence, we need to be good PRs in our own way." He highlighted the basic concepts of communication, content, culture, and common-sense of a good public relation.
After an interactive session, the all-important session on artificial intelligence and the Catholic church was taken up. Amith said, “The artificial intelligence is the keyword today in every walk of life and the church cannot be ignorant and lethargic about it. The AI has barged into the arena of faith and liturgy too. There is a robotic priest preaching and officiating at a wedding. It’s a debatable and complex scenario. The church may not accept it for the time being because there are so many ethical issues involved in it, nothing prevents us from learning the language of AI and the advantages and dangers attached to it. The present synod too calls for church communicators to use this god given technology prudently and become missionaries in the digital world. In its summary report in number 17 the synod speaks of effective use of social media and importance of public relations for walking together, synodality.”
Fr Sudeep Paul, the director of Sandesha Regional Communication Centre spoke on the ethics and ethical issues of the artificial intelligence. He said, "Although the God given natural intelligence cannot be replaced by the artificial intelligence, we cannot lag behind in the use of the technologies and services at our disposal. Pope Francis has given a clarion call to all the church leaders to be missionaries in the digital world." He spoke on the various ethical issues too cautioning the users of AI that the AI cannot take the better of ethics.
Fr Anil Fernandes, the director of Canara Communications Centre, Mangaluru spoke on the power of the social media and how effectively the church can use it in its liturgy and evangelisation.
Fr Denis D’Sa, the PRO and the director of the Commission for Social Communications compered, welcomed and introduced the speakers. The vicar general Msgr Ferdinand Gonsalves, chancellor Fr Roshan D’Souza, deans were present for the workshop. About 75 enthusiastic persons from various walks of life took part in this very relevant and recent workshop.