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Pope calls for active fight against sexual violence on the Internet

Ⓒ AFP/Archives – Filippo MONTEFORTE – | Pope Francis greets the crowd during his weekly general audience at the Varican on October 4, 2017

All components of society, and in particular the Church, must “wake up consciousness” about sexual violence that is surfing the Internet and wreaking havoc among young people, Pope Francis pleaded Friday.

“We must have our eyes open and not hide a truth that is unpleasant,” the Pope said, welcoming a gathering of scientists, sociologists, lawyers and representatives of the digital industry to the Vatican this Friday in Rome. floor on “the dignity of children” in the internet age.

“Perhaps we have not sufficiently understood in recent years that hiding the reality of sexual abuse is a very serious mistake,” he added, referring to the pedophile scandals that shook the Church for a long time adept of the omerta on this subject.

“The Catholic Church in recent years has become increasingly aware of the fact that it has not provided enough protection for minors in its midst: very serious events have come to light and we have had to acknowledge their responsibilities before God, and public opinion, “the Pope added.

The list of specific dangers of the digital age is what “disorient”, he pointed out: diffusion of pornographic images always more extreme, increasing phenomenon of “sexting” between young people, online harassment but also “sextortion “(soliciting sexual purposes of minors on the internet).

Not to mention the most serious crimes, such as prostitution or live viewing of rape of minors committed elsewhere in the world.

Scientists highlight “the profound impact of violent and sexual images on the malleable minds of children”, leading to “addictive” behaviors and influencing gender relations in adulthood, the Argentinean pope said.

“It would be a serious illusion to think that a society in which the abnormal consumption of sex on the network spreads among adults is then able to effectively protect minors,” he said.

A quarter of the more than three billion Internet users in the world are minors. The older generations are “out of the game” to understand what is happening and technological filters to block disturbing images are insufficient, warned the pope.

While recognizing that “the network has opened up a new and very wide space of free expression and exchange of ideas and information”, Francis notes that the Internet has offered new instruments for “horrible illicit activities”.

“We must fight with intelligence and determination, by expanding collaboration between governments and law enforcement agencies at the global level,” he said.

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