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Cardinal says case of Vatican diplomat recalled over child-porn allegations is "very painful"

03 October 2017 | by Christopher Lamb in Rome

The priest could face up to 12 years imprisonment if found guilty

The Vatican’s top diplomat has described as “very painful” the case of a Holy See diplomat recalled for alleged child pornography offences and is being treated with the “utmost seriousness.”

Speaking to reporters before addressing a Rome conference on protecting children in the digital world, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican's Secretary of State, said the case was a "very painful affair, a great trial for all those who are involved.” 

He stressed it was “premature” to comment further on the matter which was being treated with confidentiality in order to "protect the truth and justice". He added: "we are treating the case with the utmost commitment, the utmost seriousness".

In August Mgr Carlo Capella, 50, was recalled to the Vatican from Washington for possible violations of the law relating to child pornography. Last Friday it emerged that police in Canada had issued a warrant for his arrest for similar offences which took place at a church over Christmas. 

After recalling Mgr Capella the Vatican said they had launched a criminal investigation into the case. 

During his speech, which formally opened a conference on “Child Dignity in the Digital World”, Cardinal Parolin said the “tragic reality” of abuse has come “powerfully to the fore in the Catholic Church and extremely grave facts have emerged.” 

He added: “the Church has become increasingly aware of the harm experienced by victims, of their sufferings and of the need to listen to them, in order to work on various fronts; these include: a wide range of interventions which must be carried out in order to heal wounds, restore justice, prevent crimes and form educators and persons who deal with minors, with a view to spreading and consolidating a new culture of child protection - a real safeguarding  - that effectively guarantees they can grow up in a healthy and safe environment." 

Quoting Pope Francis he described sexual abuse as “not only a crime” but also a “sacrilege, a profanation of what is sacred, of the presence of God in every human being.” 

The conference, which is taking place at the Pontifical Gregorian University, is bringing together religious and political leaders and experts from across the world to tackle the issue of online abuse of children. 

Among those helping organise the conference is Baroness (Joanna) Shields a former Facebook executive who worked as a minister for internet safety under David Cameron’s government.  

Baroness Shields, who founded the WePROTECT global alliance to protect children online, told the gathering on Tuesday that the risks posed by the digital world are immense and requires co-ordinated action. 

“Well, the kids aren’t alright”,  she stressed. “Because the thing they’re carrying in their pockets, the thing they sleep with under their pillows, isn’t just the new kind of medium like TV was. It’s a medium that subsumes every other medium. This generation’s life experience has been profoundly shaped by the smartphone and rise of social media.” 

The conference - which runs until the 6th October - will draw up a formal declaration for action which will then be presented to Pope Francis on Friday. 

 
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