homeWorld

Pope Francis denounces proliferation of 'extreme porn' on the internet

(Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)Pope Francis hugs two girls during a meeting with youths at the Jose Maria Morelos y Pavon stadium in Morelia, Mexico, February 16, 2016.

Pope Francis has condemned the proliferation of "extreme pornography" that is increasingly being accessed by children on the internet as the Vatican faces its own cross-border child porn investigation involving a top papal envoy.

On Friday, the pope met with a group of some 150 top-level global leaders who took part in a Catholic Church-backed international conference on fighting child pornography and protecting children in the digital age.

During the meeting at the Vatican, Francis acknowledged that the Church had failed to protect children from sexual abuse, and vowed to "to work strenuously and with foresight for the protection of minors and their dignity," including online.

The pontiff also expressed concern about the increasing use of "sexting" and "sextortion" among the estimated 800 million minors who use the internet.

"We would be seriously deluding ourselves were we to think that a society where an abnormal consumption of internet sex is rampant among adults could be capable of effectively protecting minors," he said.

The "Child Dignity in the Digital World" global conference, which was held last week at Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University, was attended by leading researchers in public health, Interpol, the U.N., government representatives as well as executives from Facebook and Microsoft, according to The Associated Press.

Jacqueline Beauchere, Chief Online Safety Officer for Microsoft Inc., said she hopes that Francis' voice on the matter would help put the protection of children from abuse front-and-center among policy issues, at the level of climate change and immigration.

"I really hope there is a follow-up and follow-through, because I have attended things like this before, not of this magnitude, where everyone is so excited and so jazzed to take this forward, and there's very little follow-up and follow-through," she remarked.

Statistics provided by various experts have indicated that one in five girls around the world suffers from sexual abuse. In 80 percent of the cases, the perpetrators are someone within their circle of trust, such as parents, relatives, close friends of the family or neighbors.

The event came at a time when the Vatican is facing back-to-back child sex scandals, including a case involving Francis' top advisers, Cardinal George Pell, who recently took leave to face old abuse charges in his native Australia.

In Canada, the authorities have issued an arrest warrant for Monsignor Carlo Capella, who is accused of accessing, possessing and distributing child pornography during a visit to an Ontario church over Christmas. He has also been recalled as a senior diplomat from the Vatican's embassy in Washington in August after getting embroiled in a child porn investigation.

Capella is now in the Vatican where he is facing an investigation, but some have criticized the decision to recall him, saying he should be facing charges in the U.S. or Canada.

Go to the Home Page

Top News

Inside Christian Times