Saturday 17 August 2019

'Social media contradicts the voices of parents and authority,' warns bishop


Archbishop of Tuam Michael Neary. Photo: Michael McLaughlin
Archbishop of Tuam Michael Neary. Photo: Michael McLaughlin

Sarah MacDonald

One of the country's top bishops has warned that parents are "very concerned" about raising their children in a society where the internet and social media "contradict" their voices and authority.

In his homily for Reek Sunday, Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam said there was a "deep anxiety" about "family life, about drugs and alcohol abuse, about character and responsibility".

He added: "Parents are very concerned about raising their children. There are so many voices other than parents, from outside the home and indeed from the internet and social media within the home, that are clambering for attention and contradict the voices and the authority of parents," Dr Neary said in St Mary's Church, Westport, ahead of climbing Croagh Patrick yesterday.

"This is the situation in which we live today. It is at once complex, confusing and challenging.

"Living in a fearful society, at times devoured by anxiety and preoccupied with security, we may be tempted to retreat to a safe harbour."

He said the consumerist world is governed by money, power and possessions, with a particular emphasis on speed, popularity and control.

"You only have to look at the abundant evidence of their polar opposites in the world today, at cruelty and indifference in all their modern forms."

But Dr Neary suggested that there were signs people did not want to be tied solely to consumerism.

He said: "Yet, there are signs of a genuine, spiritual hunger in our world which acknowledges that people cannot be defined by commodity or possessions."

Speaking to the Irish Independent, the Archbishop of Tuam acknowledged that there are also some "wonderful aspects" to social media.

However, he cautioned: "But if it becomes isolating and isolationist, it becomes dangerous.

"People become preoccupied with the self and lose contact with their environment and the people around them.

"I think it is important that there should be a balance.

"The good things of social media should be highlighted and availed while we are also conscious of the pitfalls and the abuses."

Irish Independent

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