Pope Francis: Governments must act urgently against child pornography

Courtney Mares   By Courtney Mares for CNA


Pope Francis greets pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square after the Wednesday general audience, June 1, 2016. / Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Vatican City, Nov 12, 2021 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis has called on governments to take urgent action against the production of child pornography in an interview with the French magazine Paris Match.

“I believe that governments should act against this delinquency as soon as possible. The groups responsible behave like mafias who hide and defend themselves,” the pope said.

“Their victims are children and minors who are used for filming; so many people, so many young people, sometimes even minors, watch these things.”

The publication of the pope’s condemnation of pornography on Nov. 11 came days after a Catholic priest in the Diocese of Cleveland, Ohio, was sentenced to life in prison on convictions of sex trafficking of youths under 18, child pornography, and sexual exploitation of children.

In the interview with the French publication, the pope also responded to a landmark report published last month which estimated that hundreds of thousands of children were abused in the Catholic Church in France over the past 70 years.

Pope Francis underlined his sense of “shame” in response to the report — a word he also used when he spoke the day after its publication at a general audience.

“To the victims, I wish to express my sadness and my pain for the traumas they have endured and my shame, our shame, my shame that for so long the Church has been incapable of putting this at the center of its concerns, assuring them of my prayers,” he said Oct. 6.

The pope said that when speaking of this shame, he recalled “the Prophet’s words, ‘To Thee, O Lord, be the glory, to me be the shame.’”

Pope Francis has repeatedly called this year for the legal protection of human dignity online.

In an audience with the International Catholic Legislators Network, the pope urged the use of public policy to combat child pornography, data breaches, and cyber attacks.

“In our age particularly, one of the greatest challenges confronting us is the administration of technology for the common good,” the pope said on Aug. 27.

“By means of policies and regulations, lawmakers can protect human dignity from whatever may threaten it. I think, for example, of the scourge of child pornography, the misuse of personal data, attacks on critical infrastructures such as hospitals, and the spread of false information on social media and so on,” he said.

The full interview with the pope will be published in a book in French, “Pourquoi eux: Ils ont fait notre époque” (“Why them: They made our epoch”), by Caroline Pigozzi on Nov. 18.

When asked in the interview about his health after the pope’s colon surgery last July, Francis responded: “I am doing well. I lead a normal life and can work at the same pace as before.”

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