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Boon and challenge of Net

VATICAN CITY (CNS): The Catholic Church must counter the flood of lies and immorality available on the Internet with Web sites full of truth, beauty and righteousness, said a cardinal from the Dominican Republic.

“It is not enough to complain about the negative (Web) pages that multiply daily. We must accept the challenge of creating pages with a different content that certainly will reach millions of people of good will,” said Cardinal Nicolas Lopez Rodriguez of Santo Domingo.

The cardinal was one of several cardinals and bishops at the March 8-12 meeting of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications to identify the Internet as the biggest blessing and the biggest challenge for the Catholic Church’s communications efforts in the past 40 years.

Council members were asked to discuss changes in the media in the 40 years since the publication of the Second Vatican Council’s Decree on the Instruments of Social Communication.

Cardinal Lopez told the council, “Men and women of faith who believe in a better future for humanity and want to promote spiritual and moral health have a serious responsibility” to ensure that “goodness, morality and the great ideals of justice, peace and solidarity circulate on these electronic paths”.

Retired Brazilian Cardinal Eugenio de Araujo Sales of Rio de Janeiro said the Church would be wrong not to take advantage of computer and Internet technology.

Bishop Crispian Hollis of Portsmouth, England, told the council that e-mail “has been a vital piece of new technology for my work, not only as a bishop, but as a member of the human family”.

Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa offered some “ethical reflections” on the Internet and, particularly, on how global access to the same information may “generate a uniformity of consciousness” and definitively exclude from the global community those who are too poor to buy a computer.

Msgr Francis J. Maniscalco, who is director of communications for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, told the council that in his experience the most significant event in communications in the last 40 years was the media coverage of the US clerical sex abuse scandal.

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