Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops president Archbishop Paul-André Durocher CNS photo/Paul Haring

Internet holds blessings and downfalls for families

  • October 23, 2014

The Canadian contribution to the final report of the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family comes up in paragraph 10, where synod fathers speak of dangers of the Internet.

Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops president Archbishop Paul-André Durocher spoke about positive and negative effects the Internet is having on married couples and families in his French-language working group after the interim report was issued Oct. 11. At the end of the process Durocher’s concerns were reflected in the final text.

A culture built on “affectively narcissistic, unstable and changeable” images of sexuality spread by marketing and a “distorted use of the Internet” must be denounced, said the synod fathers.

“In this context, couples are sometimes uncertain, hesitant and struggling to find ways to grow,” said the final text.

The paragraph goes on to condemn an “anti-birth mentality” and government policies that limit family size.

The paragraph passed with 174 votes in favour to eight against.

Durocher told Vatican Radio he wasn’t blind to the good the Internet does, including married couples he knows who met through Catholic dating sites.

“There are blessings that come with the Internet,” Durocher said. “There are great, great gifts with the Internet, but there are great dangers also.”

From chat rooms where virtual contact leads to real-life dates and subsequent adultery to pervasive pornography, the Internet is putting new stresses on marriage, said Durocher.

“(Pornography) is a huge business that involves the demeaning of women, that involves human trafficking — basically slavery and prostitution,” said Durocher. “It is not about free expression. It is about selling a product and going to the lowest common denominator to sell whatever you can. It is degrading, it is debasing and our children are being exposed to it continually.”

Durocher had a hand in more than just paragraph 10 of the final document. He was also a member of Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi’s writing committee that came up with the final message from synod fathers to the Catholics of the world. 

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