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Catholic outrage and child porn

NPR last night aired an even more-horrifying-than-usual story about a child porn chat room operator in the U.K.

The chat room represented a porn ring that extended to 35 countries, but garnered the most traffic from the U.S., U.K. and Canada. Children as young as 2 months old were involved. Our supper was delayed a bit, as I had to go collect myself before slinging the hash after hearing the report.

Since I'm increasingly uncomfortable with Amnesty International's giving the nod to abortion in some extreme cases (see discussions in "Query" and "Excommunicating Amnesty International" threads below), I tried to find a nice Catholic organization that might be raising awareness about the child porn problem.

I googled "against child porn"+catholic and got about 900 returns that were almost as depressing as the NPR story. Aside from a couple of stories about two bishops out West who have been trying to work against child porn, most of the first returns were about priests being arrested for downloading or trafficking in child porn.

I don't think for a moment that most of our priests are sitting around downloading child pornography. I'm sure most of them would have been as outraged as I was about this story. 

The Church has used its clout and outrage to raise awareness of abuse of unborn children through embryonic warehousing and abortion. Some of that clout and outrage must surely be aimed at efforts to stem child pornography.

The question is, where? Info, please!



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Jean--I heard the same NPR story on my drive home from work, and you're right, it was chilling.Catholic Charities USA has a "special initiative" that involves efforts to combat the trafficking of children. Such trafficking often involves sexual exploitation. Here's a link you may want to take a look at:

Thanks, William. I can't see what the special initiative entails, but I'm working with a slow connection right now, and will look at this more.In our former lives as Episcopalians, my husband and I used to donate to Covenant House, a refuge for runaways who are often prey for the child porn trade, until the scandal about the NYC house broke. I see that the organization is still active.

It's been more than ten years, as I recall, that the story of Bruce Ritter broke as a molester at Covenat House in New York. Then Cardinal O'Connor broght in a tough nun from Catholic Charities, and, as far as I know, the place has been going OK since.Those children were basically runaways to the big city - a problem in major metropolosesOf course there was also the horror of Fr. shanley in Boston working with teen s (and also the Man/Boy love group.)It strikes me that's only one edge of the problem.I beleive many of the youngsters abused in the case cited here were the children of the abusers - another kind of horror.The easy access to that horror in the open range of the internet is both the problem and the major means of catching and punishing these folk.I think though that Jean has hit on a problem - the miniscule efforts of Church leadership to address isues of domestc violence, sexual ause, pornography and a general milieu that has long ago given up on modesty. And, since sex sells, the giving up on attacking the avarice that permits it or is often passive about it.

Another indirect, possible connection from a fading memory. There was a Jesuit in the Phillipines active in protesting prostitution and child prostitution when the U.S. still had an air base there (which I think has since closed). There has also been active church opposition (Catholic, I don't know) to child prostitution (tourist service) in Thailand. Anyone have actual facts? or info?

Also from fading memory -- back when I had family connections with the Philippines I met a couple of Irish-Filipino priests (American military NCO father married to Philippine mother) who were quite concerned and active about the naval (not air) base at Subic Bay. Also had a cousin who was a navy nurse stationed there, and she assured me there was a lot to be concerned with, including (but not limited to) sexual exploitation of minors.

Here is what sexual trafficking, porn, and related horrors have in common: They capitalize on poverty in connection with the low status of women in societies without a well-developed or high-functioning legal system. It's also at the root of most female infanticide. (Read Amartya Sen on the subject.) So my advice would be to find a charity that is specifically aimed at raising the status of women in society through education, training, legal advocacy or whatever. Taking care of the fallen is certainly worthy, but unless they are taught "how to fish," to use the shopworn metaphor, as Nicholas Kristoff keeps finding out, they will go back to the lifestyle that supported them, however miserably.

Jean,Please dont take this as a criticism, it is not intended as such it is an explanation. I understand your position on abortion from your posts, and respect them. Unfortunately, I think comparisons like this are frequently made, but they are as we layers say inapposite.We often hear the Church is outraged about abortion, why doesnt it say the same things about X injustice. Child pornography is a very good example.The reason the reaction is different is that the problem is different. This doesnt mean that more doesnt need to be done about child porn. I have had the unfortunate experience of prosecuting several consumers of child porn, and it is a serious problem.The difference, however, is that unlike abortion, no one (except on the illegitimate fringe) is advocating for child pornography and child sex exploitation. Ones public statements about a problem and approach to solving it will be much different when the oppositions proponents are congressmen than when they are criminals. The Churchs vigorous attitude towards life issues stems from the fact that it faces powerful forces of supposed legitimate social and governmental authority who are advocating the other side. When Teddy Kennedy advocates for abortion on demand, he is a champion of rights, when a NAMBLA president calls to change the age of consent to 10 he is a perverted nut.In short, no one disagrees with the Churchs teachings related to child pornography so they dont need to say that much about it.The question I have is what more should and can they do? Perhaps there is more, but I think a lot of what they do you wouldnt find under the heading of child sex exploitation, it is just helping children in places where such exploitation takes place, or counseling and ministering to offenders.Frankly, the problem ultimately stems from a generally twisted attitude about sexuality that the Church has had a lot to say about, but no one is listening. Certainly, the exploitation of children has gone on since time immemorial, but the explosion in child pornography and institutionalized exploitation pretty much mirrors the degeneration of sexual mores that society at large has seen in the last 50 years.

Barbara, I used to trick-or-treat for UNICEF as a kid and still support that organization. It has had child prostitution and pornography on its radar for many years. ECPAT is another organization that has been on the front lines of this issue.I'm happy to give money to Church organizations if they're doing something about the problems. Hence my query.But I'm concerned that the Church's response seems limited to "ain't it awful" statements (I found 17 statements of concern about child porn when I searched the Vaitcan Web site, but no announcements of funded initiatives that would ameliorate the sitaution)--and making lists of organizations that may address the problem but that you can't belong to because its aims don't entirely square with Church teaching.

Oops, Sean, our posts crossed.I would say that the Church's teaching on abortion has probably helped raise awareness of other types of exploitation of children. Ditto it's teaching on sexual mores.So no argument there.But Vatican has not hesitated to chide governments that allowed capital punishment and abortion, or to pressure Catholics in those countries to be aware of and lobby for better and more effective laws that square with Church teaching.So that's one thing it could do for starters on the issue of child porn and child prostitution. Because even though laws are on the books in most countries, they're not always enforced, especially if the sex tourism biz is a booming part of the economy.

There's no doubt that the Church sometimes makes the better the enemy of the best when it comes to adressing problems like the sex trade. No suggestions. I will happily support AI, Mercy Corps, etc. and hope the Church comes around to seeing that the best way to lead people (especially women) to embody virtue is by promoting freedom, equality, and education.

"Based on cross-country linear and multiple regressions using newly gathered data from UNAIDS, the number of female commercial sex workers as a percentage of the female adult population is robustly positively correlated with countrywide HIV/AIDS prevalence levels. Confirming earlier studies, female illiteracy levels, gender illiteracy differences and income inequality within countries are also significantly positively correlated with HIV/AIDS levels. Muslims as a percentage of the population, itself highly correlated with country circumcision rates and previously found to be negatively correlated with HIV/AIDS prevalence, is insignificant when the percentage of commercial sex workers in a population is included in the analysis."

Sad to relate is the fact that the church is more concerned about establishing position than doing something substantial to fight this problem. When Phillipino nuns refuse to take communion from priests because of exploitation, you know you have a church that is in trouble. Many of them do not have priests for mass anymore.The suppression of women is pivotal in these abuses. Where is their right to life?

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