Pope: A society that consumes pornography is not able to effectively protect minors
At the Vatican, the pope met with participants from the conference “Child Dignity in the Digital World” organized by the Gregorian University. It is the first time experts from all over the world gathered to discuss how to protect minors on the Internet.
NUNO DA SILVA GONÇALVES
Rector, Pontifical Gregorian University
“Digital technologies break boundaries, they make communication immediate, draw us closer and allow us to take care of each other. However, they also offer occasions to exploit others and overthrow the dignity of the weakest and the defenseless.”
This girl presented a document to the pope with the measures proposed by the participants to end the abuse of minors on the Internet.
“I offer this historic document to you on behalf of the millions of people around the world who need information, and far more protection from the risks of sexual and other forms of abuse on the Internet. Using your own words, we believe that a society can be judged by the way it treats its children. Every child has the right to dignity and safety.”
Pope Francis emphatically stated the Catholic Church has learned that recognizing the problem is the first step to resolving it.
“Have we not adequately understood that hiding the reality of sexual abuse is a very grave error and the source of many evils? Now, let's face the reality.”
Pope Francis listed some of the dangers children face on the Internet: from bullying and storing pornographic content, to blackmail after sending intimate photos, to being involved in trafficking networks or being personally abused.
He said that such things have traumatic consequences for minors, and that pornography also seriously damages adults.
“It would be a grave illusion to think that a society, where an abnormal amount of online sex is common among adults, would then be able to effectively protect its minors.”
The pope asked Internet companies to take actions to protect children. However, he also insisted that the key is to educate both young people and adults on the correct use of the digital world.
“What must we do to prevent this light being stolen from them, so their eyes are not disturbed and corrupted by what they encounter online, which then becomes an integral and important part of their lives? Let us work together, therefore, to always have the rights, the courage and the joy to look into the eyes of the children of the world.”
Before leaving, the pope greeted the 300 participants and their relatives one-by-one. This was his concrete way of showing them that he will continue to work to ensure that one day children can navigate the Internet safely.