(ZENIT News / Lisbon, 03.08.2023).- On Thursday morning, August 3, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle intervened at the end of a Mass for digital evangelizers, one of the many activities in the context of the Lisbon World Youth Day. The Pro Prefect of the Dicastery for Evangelization spoke in Spanish to a replete auditorium on the significance of [influencers and digital evangelization].
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I thank the organizers of this meeting and you, those called influencers or evangelizers in and of the digital world or culture. As a person who works in the Dicastery for Evangelization, especially in the Section on the first evangelization and young Churches, I am happy that the digital world is recognized as a territory, a space (not only a means) of evangelization in which a new expression of community and mission is arising. I only wish to offer you some reflections that you already know, but that are useful as reminders.
[1st An Influence Based on the Gospel
In the first place, I have consulted the Thesaurus on the word “influence.” Here is a partial result. I quote:
“Influence is a personal and not official power stemming from others’ deference to the character, the capacity or the position of someone; it can be exercised unconsciously or through persuasion: for example, to have influence over friends. Authority is the power or right, generally for reasons of rank or position, to give orders and punish infractions: for example, to have authority over subordinates. Control is power or influence applied to the direction or complete and satisfactory manipulation of people or things: for example, to have control of a project.”
Influence, authority, control: often overlap, with an aspect of dominating others. I hope that all of you will find a way to understand and practice influence based on the Gospel, or even better, that you learn from Jesus how to influence others. We can say that Jesus evangelized by influencing others through His person, words, relationships, mercy, miraculous actions, Death and Resurrection. Political and business leaders contract people to help them become influencing people. Influencer is another name for leader.
[2nd Invite to This Fertile Territory for the Mission]
My second observation is the fact that influencing people have the capacity to form groups or “communities” of followers. Unfortunately , some influencers sow seeds of hatred, lack of respect, discrimination and violence. Please, take seriously the type of community that we wish to form. Invite your Bishops, the priests, the women religious and those estranged from the Church to form part of your community. It might be that some of your Pastors are not familiarized with the digital world. Other might not trust it. All of you must guide them in this territory as fertile terrain for pastoral care and the mission. Invite also your community or your “disciples” to the parish, to the celebrations, to the pilgrimages, to Eucharistic Adoration and to the service of charity.
[3rd What or Who Influences An Influencer?]
Finally, every influencing person is also influenced by other people, experiences, ideologies, prejudices, traumas and other things. So each one of you must ask him/herself: What or who influences me? Every influencer who wants to be an Evangelizer needs to be influenced by Jesus and His Gospel. Only Jesus will make us genuine influencers. The world already has many false influencers for false objectives, be genuine influencers for an authentic Christianity.