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Vatican hosts conference on child abuse while shielding priest wanted for child porn

Lisa Bourne Lisa Bourne Follow Lisa

VATICAN CITY, Italy, October 5, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – A veteran Vatican watcher noted a “day of irony in Rome” this week as the Holy See conducted a conference on protecting children from internet-based sexual abuse while simultaneously harboring inside its walls a Vatican diplomat wanted by police for possessing child porn. 

“This is not to pre-judge the guilt or innocence of anyone,” Dr. Robert Moynihan wrote in an October 3 letter to his subscribers. “It is merely to note the irony of Church sponsorship for a conference on global child pornography while charges of breaking child pornography laws are outstanding against a monsignor who works for the Vatican and who is enjoying immunity due to his diplomatic status and living in the Vatican.”

Moynihan, founder and editor-in-chief of Inside the Vatican magazine, began his newsletter quoting part of the opening address from Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, Tuesday at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome for the conference, "Child Dignity in the Digital World.” 

The event is being held October 3-6 and was organized by the Gregorian University’s Center for Child Protection.

The cardinal cautioned against humans allowing themselves to be dominated by technical, economic, and political forces. He said the power of sexual desire is a positive thing when it advances human life, but it must be elevated and directed to avoid corruption and abuse.

Moynihan then detailed some conference specifics, including that upon its conclusion, participating experts, academics, executives, civilian leaders, politicians and religious representatives from across the world would present a final statement on the conference to Pope Francis.

“At the same time, a Vatican diplomat, accused by Canadian authorities of downloading child pornography in Canada, is being housed inside Vatican City, protected by the Vatican's sovereign diplomatic immunity from arrest by Canadian police, reportedly receiving friends and strolling in the same Vatican Gardens where Emeritus Pope Benedict takes his daily walk,” Moynihan wrote.

The Vatican recalled a high-ranking priest working as a diplomat for the Holy See’s embassy in Washington D.C. in mid-September after the State Department sought to lift his immunity and potentially indict him with possession of child pornography.

The Vatican has said the priest will undergo internal investigation and possible trial in Vatican City.

Critics have reportedly charged the Vatican with protecting its diplomat by calling him back to Vatican City – a sovereign state - before he could be charged in the U.S.

"By the irony of the fate, while today at the Gregorian University, in the presence of Cardinal Pietro Parolin, an international summit was opened to discuss how to protect children from the predators who every day exchange millions of images of abused minors, the Pope in Santa Martha for several days has been faced with a case as embarrassing as it is troubling: an Italian monsignor sought by the authorities in Canada for the exchange of pedo-pornographic material but at the moment safe in the Vatican thanks to diplomatic immunity,” wrote Franca Giansoldati in the Roman daily newspaper, Il Messaggero. 

“Needless to say, nobody wants to talk about this case," said Giansoldati, adding: "This is a very embarrassing situation for the Pope, who now has to decide what to do."

Moynihan said that the bible has stark words for those who abuse children. 

“Scripture recalls only two occasions when Jesus became filled with righteous anger,” he said. “One was when he picked up a whip to cast the moneychangers from the Temple area. The other was when he warned all who might harm or abuse children of the terrible evil of such acts, of the terrible evil that is abuse of children.”

The irony created by the Vatican conducting a conference on protecting children from sexual abuse on the internet while it deals with charges against one of its diplomats for of child pornography possession echoes the uproar last year after the Vatican released a controversial sex ed program for young people during World Youth Day in Poland.  

The Pontifical Council for the Family unveiled “The Meeting Point: Course of Affective Sexual Education for Young People” last July to pilgrims at World Youth Day. 

Pro-life and family advocates sounded the alarm on the program for its use of sexually explicit images and immoral videos. They also said it ignored the 6th and 9th commandments, neglected any mention of sexual sins, and conflicted with previous Church teaching.

Some called the program “thoroughly immoral,” “entirely inappropriate,” and “quite tragic,” while one expert said it was “the most dangerous threat to Catholic youth” in 40 years.

Moynihan concluded by encouraging Catholics to by and large turn the Internet off and invest more in human interaction to combat exploitation of children and ideas that debase human passions.

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