IT’S a time of great upheaval and uncertainty for the Catholic Church, and for all of us.
But while some of us might be surprised at the news of Pope Francis’ appointment of an independent panel to advise him on what to do with the Church’s enormous arsenal of digital resources, most of us can appreciate how vital it is to remain vigilant.
The Pope is in the midst of a historic shift in his leadership, but for some, the decision to appoint an independent watchdog has come as a surprise.
He has been criticised by the head of the Church for having “abandoned the pastoral care of the faithful” during the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI, and his appointment of a board of bishops has sparked concerns over how he intends to handle the Church, in an age of digital warfare.
The Vatican said the Pope’s decision was a response to a series of recent scandals, which have been the subject of a number of books, documentaries and articles.
Among the topics that Pope Francis has focused on in his recent comments to the media are the issue of child abuse, and the Church in the digital age.
The Church has been at the forefront of protecting the rights of victims of child sexual abuse since it was formed in 1873, but the extent of that protection has been diminished by technology, which has led to the exploitation of children, including the exploitation by internet companies.
Pope Francis’ decision to create an independent commission to investigate and report on these issues, has already received widespread criticism, with many of his critics claiming that it will not have the same impact on the Church as the Vatican did during the recent scandals.
The Catholic Church has always been an organisation built on truth and charity, Pope Francis said in a video address to the Catholic Bishops Conference.
“I ask all Catholics to pray for the healing of the broken hearts of the victims of these past scandals, for the release of the priests, for a better future for children, for justice for all,” he said.
“The Church’s history, its culture and values must always be upheld and defended.”
But while Pope Francis may be using his power to protect the rights and well-being of the people, the new pontiff has not made a decision to ignore the abuse scandals, and many are worried about how the appointment of the independent watchdog will be viewed by some of the world’s most influential people.
One expert said the appointment could also be seen as a “softening” of the Pope, as his own comments about the abuse issue have been seen by some as soft.
The idea of a Vatican watchdog has not been a popular one in the Church.
The Vatican has already been criticised for the handling of the scandal involving Father Kevin Warwick, the priest who was charged with molesting three boys in the early 1990s.
It has also faced criticism over the handling by the Vatican of allegations of sexual abuse against former Bishop Peter Turkson.
And while many Catholics have welcomed the Pope bringing an independent oversight body into the Church after decades of criticism, some are worried that it could have a chilling effect on the activities of the church.
“It is not a bad idea to create a watchdog to help protect the Church from the abuse of children,” said Father Martin Janssens, a professor of sociology at the University of Sydney and a former Catholic priest.
“But that does not mean it will be a fair and impartial body.”‘
We are not going to accept it’The Vatican is the world leader in the use of technology for missionary work.
In 2016, Pope Benedict appointed a group of scholars to study the impact of the internet on the Catholic church.
The group’s report, which was released in October, was largely welcomed by some in the church, but it also highlighted how the internet has helped the spread of extremist ideology and extremism.
“In a time when we are witnessing an increase in radicalisation of all sorts, we are not looking for a Vatican-style, global solution to these problems,” said Professor Janssen.
“The Pope’s appointment of this panel will have no impact on how the Church does its missionary work.”
“We are in no way going to have any part of it,” he added.
Pope Benedict, who has always emphasised the importance of the Catholic faith, has repeatedly made clear he believes the internet is a source of salvation for mankind.
“We believe the Holy Spirit works within the internet itself, and therefore, when we use it, we can become more aware of the truth, the light of the Gospel, and we can also reach out for the forgiveness of sins,” he told reporters in August 2016.
But Professor JANSSEN said it is important that the Pope not “overstep” his authority and “make decisions in a way that he thinks will be seen by his own followers”.
“It would be better if the Pope would have the power to decide on the