July 25, 2024

2024 ComWEEK: CSN Holds Maiden Public Lecture on Artificial Intelligence

By PJ Usanga

In a commendable development, the Social Communications Directorate of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) held the first edition of its public lecture on the topic: Artificial Intelligence: Challenges and Opportunities for Evangelization and Social Development on Wednesday, May 8, 2024, at the CSN Resource Centre in Abuja.

The public lecture, which was a response to the mandate by the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) to raise public awareness about the potentials and dangers of emerging AI technology, was attended by theย Emeritus Archbishop of Abuja, His Eminence, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, the CBCN President, Most Rev. Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, the CBCN Episcopal Chairman on Social Communications, Most Rev. David Ajang, the Auxiliary Bishop of Abuja Archdiocese, Most Rev. Anselm Umoren,ย and Rev. Fr. Prof. Anthony Akinwale as the guest lecturer, along with other panelists, guests, and dignitaries.

In the keynote address, the CBCN President, Most Rev. Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, emphasized the church’s duty to shed light on the promising phenomenon of Artificial Intelligence.

“It is imperative to acknowledge our duty as Church to shed light on the burgeoning phenomenon of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Guided by Vatican II Decree on the Means of Social Communication, Inter Mirifica no. 2, we recognize our responsibility to educate the faithful on the positive and negative influences of the media. My role today is to present the keynote address. Much like an appetizer whets the appetite for the main course, this Keynote Address sets the stage for the rich discussions to follow, led by our esteemed resource persons.”

Archbishop Ugorji expressed his gratitude to the National Director of the Directorate for Social Communication, Fr. Michael Umoh, for leading the ComWEEK initiative and the inaugural ComWEEK public lecture. He explained that through the annual lecture, the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria aim to provide a platform for experts to discuss issues concerning the Church’s mission and the broader welfare of society.

The CBCN Episcopal Chairman on Social Communications, Most Rev. David Ajang, in his welcome address, highlighted the significance of introducing a public lecture into the ComWEEK program as a milestone in the Church’s journey towards fostering effective and faith-driven communication within and beyond the church community.

The Special Guest of Honour, His Eminence John Cardinal Onaiyekan, commended the National Director of Social Communications, Rev. Fr. Michael Umoh, and the organizing team for courageously addressing Pope Francis’s challenging message for this year’s WCD celebration on Artificial Intelligence. He praised the Communications Directorate of CSN for the elaborate arrangements made for this year’s Communications Week, noting the continuous improvement of the ComWEEK program.

The Emeritus Cardinal Archbishop of Abuja prayed for God’s abundant blessings and mercies on all the participants throughout the week-long study and reflection of the ComWEEK program.

The guest lecturer, Rev. Fr. Prof. Anthony Akinwale, OP, in his presentation on the topic: “Is there Artificial Intelligence? An interrogation on the way to convergence of technology, communication, and evangelization,” offered an intellectual and socio-religious exposition on the potential impact of evolving AI technology on evangelization and social development. This was followed by panel discussions, participant questions, and deliberative interactions on the implications of AI technology for the future of the Church and society.


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