MANILA, Feb. 11, 2016– Catholic bishops have warned parents of the dangers of the internet as pornography is becoming a disturbing trend in the Philippines.
The prelates particularly urged parents to monitor their children’s activities on the internet so they won’t be exposed to cyber pornography.
“Parents must be held responsible in monitoring and supervising their children’s access to the internet,” said Archbishop Socrates Villegas, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
The CBCP made the statement in its latest document titled “Created for Love, Created for Chastity– A pastoral Response to the Grave Evil of Pornography”, and was released to the public on Thursday, Feb 10.
The issue on pornography was among the pressing concerns that the bishops discussed during their plenary assembly held in Cebu City last month.
The bishops described pornography as a “pervasive social cancer” that has been on the rise on the internet and “wounded and corrupted” many men, women, and children.
According to the 2015 Study of Word Internet Users and Population Statistics, Filipino children are among those with the highest access to the internet in Asia.
In 2013, a study on the youth conducted by the University of the Philippines Population Institute showed that 56.5 percent of Filipinos aged 15-24 have been exposed to pornographic videos, 35.6% have been exposed to sexually explicit reading materials, and 15.5% have viewed pornographic websites.
“Given the all-pervasiveness of the internet, it should not be surprising that pornography has invaded our homes, workplaces, schools, and churches,” Villegas said.
Pope Francis has earlier cautioned parents against the dangerous effects internet has on children, particularly on pornographic material on the web.
In his Lenten message for 2014, the Pope also included pornography among the many vices that can damage the family.
The CBCP has addressed the issue in several statements since 1999 but this is the first time that the bishops have put more emphasis on cyber pornography.
Easy access to pornography has made it one of the most lucrative online business which reportedly generates up to US$100 billion a year.
Alarmingly, authorities said that the Philippines has become a major producer and distributor of pornography, especially of child pornography.
In 2014, the Philippine National Police reported that the country is among the top ten nations for the production of online child pornography.
The bishops said that child pornography in the country is fueled by foreign and local perpetrators who are exploiting poor and vulnerable families and their children.
“These are Filipino children whose innocence has been consumed for the pleasure of others,” they said.
The bishops then reiterated its commitment to fight the problem, and tasked its Commission on Family and Life to strengthen its programs against pornography.
They also reiterated the pressing need for integral and coordinated effort among stakeholders to combat the problem.
The six-page letter also seeks to promote further discussion and resources to help those harmed by pornography.
The pontiff has urged the world’s bishops to seek out and heal the wounded and the latest document is the among the CBPC’s means to do that.
Pornography, the bishops said, does grave injury to the dignity of all involved, performers, consumer, producers, and distributors, since each is “dehumanized by an industry that exists solely to objectify persons for illicit profit.”
“For all these reasons, pornography is a grave evil that attacks and undermines not only the individual person but also the common good,” they said.
“As such, producing, distributing, and using pornography are serious sins against chastity and human dignity that need to be confessed to obtain God’s pardon and mercy.”
According to them, pornography hurt families, communities, and entire societies. “It makes prayer difficult,” they added
However, in this Year of Mercy, the bishops said Church is called to affirm and to proclaim the “healing power of Jesus, who is the “face of God’s mercy.”
“To those who have been exploited and victimized by the pornography industry, nothing that you have done to you can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus,” they also said.
They added: “You remain and will always be a cherished and beloved child of God created in his image and likeness.” (Roy Lagarde/CBCPNews)