Cyberslums and dark places need Church compassion

Digital cyberslums where cyberbullying, pornography and abuse are running rampant need the Church’s presence, a Vatican conference found.

The conference, Wednesday, entitled “Stop threats on the internet” was organised by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

Reports of one out of three young people in Europe being cyberbullied is evidence of a “new form of violence” against young people and children, said Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council.

Despite many national and international laws and agreements, “humanity still hasn’t been able to uproot completely the different forms of violence and exploitation against children,” he said.

“Virtual” abuse and harassment result in real, not virtual, damage, said Fr Fortunato Di Noto.

Di Noto is an Italian priest who, for the past 25 years, has been leading the fight in Italy to protect children from online predators around the world.

Following Pope Francis’ call to minister at the periphery, Di Noto suggests the Church needs to go to the virtual peripheries and meet those who are hurting.

Founding ‘Meter’, his association has created a tent church in dark places in the digital world.

‘Meter’ finds people who, while inflicting pain on others, are looking for affection, meaning in life or trying to work out their own pain, Di Noto says.

“We have to make sure that these places of emotional destitution, these new digital peripheries that I would call ‘digital slums,’ can be made habitable” because places that lack all forms of compassion and human connection attract ravenous “vultures,” he said.

Di Noto’s ministry offers “real accompaniment on the Internet because there are many people who are in need because they ‘live’ in this place every day.”

“The problem isn’t Internet, the problem is the human being,” he said.

Di Noto said Meter’s annual school-based educational campaign this year will include giving children a 10-point guide to online safety and a plastic ruler to underline that there are rules in life that need to be followed.


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News category: World.

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