Date of publication: 21/04/2020

Council General Draws Attention to ethical recommendations on Social Media during the Coronavirus Pandemic

Council General International

In June 2019, during the annual meeting that the Council General International held in Porto (Portugal), the document entitled “Ethical Protocol for Social Media” was approved by all countries, containing numerous recommendations to all brothers and sisters with regarding the most appropriate posture to be adopted on social networks.

Currently, we are living in dark times with the pandemic of the “New Coronavirus” (Covid-19), which has been impacting the daily life of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul (SSVP) and sadly affecting humanity, with thousands of deaths, in addition to immeasurable damages to the economy, generating more poverty, indigence and unemployment. The challenges that will follow after the crisis will also be immense for all of us.

In this connection, some attitudes not recommended on social networks are been observed, with videos and photos of social actions. Of course, the SSVP needs to be known to obtain new members and more donations. However, in pursuit of this mission, our institution can never expose the privacy of vulnerable and sick people. “We are useless servants: such is the testimony that must give those who unite to serve God and men. Not to show ourselves, but let us to be seen” (Letter of Antoine-Frederic Ozanam to François Lallier, October 5, 1837).

Furthermore, any action focused on personal self-promotion is contrary to the spirit of the Rule, to the Vincentian tradition and to the legacy of the seven founders. The Vincentian is discreet by nature and his/her actions are reserved and silent (Matthew 6, 1-4). Images of noncompliance during the quarantine, publicly, also give counter-testimony of charity and point to a very harmful social disobedience to the image of our Society.

The National or Superior Councils, when they identify inappropriate behaviors or attitudes of the members, especially in social media networks, have the moral duty to carry out fraternal correction (Matthew 18, 15-20). “Only with adequate spiritual formation, based on the Vincentian virtues and on the tradition of our Society, will we avoid possible deviations during actions of social solidarity”, stressed our president, brother Renato Lima de Oliveira, 16th President General.

We kindly ask for the careful reading of the “Ethical Protocol” and we ask for everyone’s support in spreading its content among the members, especially amongst the Vincentian leaders and those responsible for social communication of the SSVP. We will win this crisis, since humanity has already overcome other epidemics and natural disasters.

Click here to read the “Ethical Protocol for Social Media”.