Vatican Denounces ‘Cyberbullying, Sexting, and Sextorsion’

Pope Francis sits during a meeting with faithful on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Neocatechumenal Way, one of the Catholic Church's biggest missionary movement, in the esplanade of Tor Vergata neighborhood in Rome, Saturday, May 5, 2018. Pope Francis is urging the missionary movement to respect different …
AP/Andrew Medichini

The Vatican’s Secretary of State minced no words in decrying the evils of cybercrime, saying, “The dark side of our new digital world cannot be underestimated” in a message released Tuesday.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin has sent the written text of his message to participants in a meeting of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ) currently taking place in Vienna, Austria, which this year is focused on the issue of “cybercrime.”

The topic is “of great interest and attention on the part of Pope Francis,” the cardinal said, since although technological progress has brought with it enormous benefits, it has also created new dangers.

“Among its most serious aspects is the spread of new forms of criminal activity, or of older forms now conducted with new and extremely powerful tools,” he said. “To combat these effectively is the necessary and pressing task before you.”

The Vatican official said that the greatest threats of cybercrime are those that affect children.

“The proliferation of ever more extreme images of violence and pornography profoundly affects the psychology and even the neurological functioning of children. Cyberbullying, sexting and sextorsion corrupt interpersonal and social relationships,” he said.

“Forms of sexual grooming on the internet, the live viewing of acts of rape and violence, organized prostitution online, human trafficking and incitement to violence and terrorism: all these are clear examples of horrendous crimes that can in no way be tolerated,” he added.

The cardinal said that the Catholic Church is aware of its role “in forming consciences and raising public awareness” and desires to cooperate with political authorities and all actors in civil society “to ensure that children can grow up in a serene and safe environment.”

“For this reason, Pope Francis offers prayerful good wishes for the successful outcome of the work of the Commission and sends cordial greetings to all those taking part,” he concludes.

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