Last Thursday the Vatican issued two documents, encouraging Catholics to use the Internet, but warning of its dangers. Archbishop John Foley, head of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, said the Internet was "an opportunity and a challenge not a threat."
Speaking at a press conference, the Archbishop told reporters the Internet's power was not always used for "noble ends, even by those within the church".
Referring to a case in Spain last month in which a priest was arrested and is now under investigation for his part in an Internet child pornography ring - he said such conduct was "absolutely scandalous" and noted that today's aspiring seminarians are vetted to ensure that they are "not only healthy physically but also healthy mentally and morally". "Unfortunately, the Internet contributes to these problems that exist not only within the church but even more in society in general," he added.
The Archbishop explained that the Vatican's message about the Internet aims to "emphasise that the Catholic church, along with other religious bodies, should have a visible, active presence on the Internet and be a partner in the public dialogue about its development." He said the Church was encouraging all Catholics to monitor the quality of Internet content and guide young people as they navigate the Web. The full text of both documents can be found on the Rome-based Zenit news agency website at these addresses: "Ethics in Internet" can be read at: www.zenit.org/english/visualizza.phtml?sid=17282. "The Church and Internet" is available at: www.zenit.org/english/visualizza.phtml?sid=17283.