VATICAN CITY, November 9, 2011 ( – In remarks that the Vatican Insider newspaper called “anything but coincidental,” Pope Benedict XVI condemned the abuse of women through pornography in remarks welcoming the new German ambassador to the Holy See, Reinhard Schweppe, on November 7th.

“The time has come,” the Holy Father said, “to take an energetic stance against prostitution and the widespread availability of erotic and pornographic material, also on the Internet.”

The statement to the German ambassador was made even as the German bishops are embroiled in a controversy over the fact that WELTBILD, a publishing company wholly owned by the bishops, was found to be peddling 2,500 pornographic book titles.


The scandal has been receiving increasing international attention.  A lengthy article in the UK Independent reported that “Germany’s biggest Catholic-owned publishing house has been rocked by disclosures that it has been selling thousands of pornographic novels with titles such as Sluts Boarding School and Lawyer’s Whore with the full assent of the country’s leading bishops.” Fox News in the United States also reported the story.

While the German bishops originally responded to the revelation by saying the selling of the books was caused by a “filtering error” and would be addressed, WELTBILD has since said that the titles aren’t pornography, but “erotica,” and that they would be suing those who claimed the bishops were profiting from porn.

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In his remarks, the pope had called for an end to gender discrimination against women, describing it as “a critical problem which, due to materialistic and hedonistic tendencies, seems to be on the increase, above all in the Western world.”

In particular the Pope highlighted the abuse of women through pornography and prostitution, which he said are a serious offense to human dignity.

“The Holy See will ensure,” Pope Benedict stated, “that the Catholic Church in Germany takes clear and decisive initiatives against this form of abuse.”

The pope also touched on Germany’s constitutional recognition of the value of human dignity after the “horrors” of the Nazi dictatorship, but noted that the secular country was now questioning these values.

“A fundamental part of shared human values became law in the German Constitution of 1949 and in the Declaration of Human Rights after World War II because, after the horrors of the dictatorship, people recognized the general validity of these values,” Pope Benedict said.

“However, some of these fundamental values of human existence are being put into question again,” the Pope said, “values which defend the dignity man possesses simply by virtue of being a man. It is here that the Church sees she has a duty, over and above her faith, to defend truths and values that are under threat.”

“We are not qualified to judge … whether an individual is ‘already a person’ or ‘still a person’; even less so do we have the right to manipulate and, so to say, ‘to create’ man,” the pope said. “Only a society which unconditionally respects and defends the dignity of each human being, from conception to natural end, can call itself a human society.”

The full text of the Pope’s remarks to the new German ambassador to the Holy See is available here.