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Guard kids against cyber porn, parents warned

Members of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) gather for Mass at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral at the start of their plenary assembly in Cebu City, Jan. 22, 2016. (R. Lagarde/CBCPNews)

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.

Lucrative industry 

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.

Heal wounds

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)

Palo youth set IEC Youth Day

Young people animate an activity during the 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) in Cebu City. (Photo: Ana Perucho)

PALO, Leyte, Feb. 11, 2016 – The youth of Leyte will take on the challenge left by the 51st International Eucharistic Congress by echoing the event’s richness and learnings through the Archdiocesan Echo of IEC Youth Day on Feb. 24 to 25.

Hosted by the Vicariate of Tacloban, the event will coincide with the 4th Archdiocesan Youth Day and will be in keeping with Papal Legate Bishop Charles Maung Cardinal Bo’s call to young people.

At the closing of the 51st IEC in Cebu City he said: “Instead of expecting the youth to return to the church, the church must return to the youth.”

Easy to understand

Gerard San Gabriel, a 2nd year Theology student at the St. John the Evangelist School of Theology (SJEST) here, found the IEC experience “very memorable and significant [experience] for me simply because the talks of great speakers were brilliant and unexpectedly easy to understand.”

For him, “The most effective talks during the congress were the testimonials that were given by our brothers and sisters who lived their talk, who lived out their faith as concretely as possible in their daily lives”

He believes though that “it would be more effective for other people to learn what I have learned from the IEC if they observe and see in my life that I have lived what I have learned from the congress.”

Re-echoing by witnessing

San Gabriel added: “Witnessing will be the most effective way of re-echoing the knowledge that I have assimilated from the IEC.”

San Joaquin (Palo) Parish accountant and commission on youth chairman Melvin Maraya who was among the archdiocesan youth who attended the IEC Youth Day on Jan. 29, shares San Gabriel’s view.

“The only thing I can share to the youth is always live the Eucharist in our life, hearts and soul,” he said.

Expounding on this, Maraya added, “In order to live the Eucharist we need to become holy or saintly.”

Christ at the center of life

“To achieve this, we need to know the center of our life which is Jesus Christ, to know that we are great sinners and to realize that it is not always about ourselves but of others,” Maraya discussed.

He urged his fellow youth to continue to pray for those who cannot witness to the Body and Blood of Christ.

“Let us persevere on all our undertakings and be missionaries of the Holy Church,” he suggested.

Be missionaries

Fr. Gwen Lovelino Padagdag, priest-in-charge of the Sto. Niño Parish youth ministry, stressed in his homily that each time a Catholic receives the Holy Host he takes on the duty of being a missionary for Christ.

“The Eucharist reminds us of our mission as baptized Catholics, that is to spread the Good News of Salvation and to be witness of Christ’s love,” he said.

Early on Fr. Ivo Acebedo Velasquez, a formator at SJEST, urged the faithful to pray not just for the success of the IEC but for the IEC message itself to bear fruit among those who hear them. (Eileen Nazareno-Ballesteros / CBCP News)