It is for the Church to 'defend the dignity of children in the digital age,' Bishop Sherrington said

A bishop has warned that the internet poses “multiple dangers” to children, given its origins as a “system developed for adults”.

John Sherrington, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster, referred to the World Congress on Child Dignity in the Digital Age, a convention held by the Vatican in October.

“It shows the Holy See is really concerned about the present situation, the way in which there are multiple dangers faced by children in the age of the internet,” he said.

“It has a structure that was developed for adults, for free communication, but children and young people use it extensively, and therefore there are many dangers which others can exploit.

“The internet can be used to promote or further the means of the abuse of children, blackmail and new forms of degraded slavery”.

Bishop Sherrington was speaking during closing remarks at a conference for the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales in Leeds last week.

He confirmed that the assembly endorsed the Declaration of Rome, released on 6th October, which states:

“We challenge internet providers to take account of their responsibilities and to invest in measures to limit and control the deeply damaging ways in which the internet is used.”

After reading from the Declaration, Bishop Sherrington said: “(It is) the work of the companies, the work of governments, the work of many different agencies, but the voice of the Catholic Church in this – bringing together experts for this conference – is to promote and defend the dignity of children in the digital age.”

In closing remarks at the World Congress, Pope Francis said: “What are we doing to make sure that [children] will not be darkened and corrupted by what they will find on the internet, which will soon be so integral and important a part of their daily lives?”