Vatican No. 2 opens online abuse seminar amid child porn scandal involving senior diplomat | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Vatican No. 2 opens online abuse seminar amid child porn scandal involving senior diplomat

October 02, 2017 - 9:43 AM

ROME - The Vatican's secretary of state is headlining an international conference on protecting children from online sexual abuse and exploitation, weeks after he recalled one of his diplomats who was caught up in a U.S.-Canadian investigation into child porn.

Organizers said the arrest warrant issued for Monsignor Carlo Capella showed the need for the conference, which opens Tuesday and ends Friday when participants bring a set of proposals to Pope Francis.

Police in Windsor, Ont., said last week that Capella, 50, allegedly uploaded child porn to a social networking site while visiting a place of worship in the city between Dec. 24 and Dec. 27.

Capella is accused of accessing, possessing and distributing child pornography. Windsor police said they were alerted in February that someone in the city had allegedly uploaded child porn using a social networking site.

They obtained records of the internet service provider and determined the dates in question. Windsor police issued a Canada-wide arrest warrant for Capella, though it noted that he had returned to Italy.

The Vatican recalled Capella, the No. 4 official in its Washington embassy, after the U.S. State Department notified it Aug. 21 of a "possible violation of laws relating to child pornography images" by one of its diplomats in Washington.

Panelists at the international conference this week include leading researchers in public health, law enforcement, government as well as executives form Facebook and Microsoft — evidence of the across-the-board realization that the digital age is bringing exponential new threats to children.

"The risks are everywhere. It is not a western problem," said the Rev. Hans Zollner, conference organizer and head of the Center for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University, the Catholic Church's leading research and education centre on sexual abuse prevention and child protection.

Zollner cited a chilling statistic: In the coming years, it is estimated that 500 million more Indians will go online, many of them young Indians whose parents may not even have a smartphone, much less be aware of the "dark web" and the anonymous, unregulated regions of the internet where much of the traffic is related to sexual abuse.

Most of the panelists hail from the U.S. and Europe, where research into the issue of child sexual abuse is a generation ahead of other parts of the world where the issue is still so taboo it isn't even spoken of, much less considered viable for research funding, Zollner said.

But invited guests hail from around the world, including delegations from China's cyberspace administration, the head of the Russian internet industry association, the Saudi and UAE interior ministries, as well as a Brazilian federal judge and prosecutor, and NGOs from elsewhere in Latin America, said Ernie Allen, chair of the WeProtect global alliance.

— With files from The Canadian Press

News from © The Associated Press, 2017
The Associated Press

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