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Posted on 04/23/2019 23:28 PM (CNA Daily News)
Washington D.C., Apr 23, 2019 / 04:28 pm (CNA).- Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix called on a gathering of the nation’s Catholic leaders to stand up to the heresies of the modern age and defend the dignity of the human person, body and soul, as an integral part of defending the faith.
Speaking at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast April 23, the keynote speaker said that the importance of the human body was at the center of a contemporary moral crisis, and crucial to presenting the Church’s teaching in modern society.
Olmsted said that he believes the “disaster” predicted by Pope St. Paul VI in the encyclical Humanae vitae had come to fruition. Quoting from an exhortation to the married couples of his own diocese, he said that the sexual revolution of the last century had caused humanity “a plague of misery on a scale never known before.”
“Enough! Husbands and wifes, mothers and fathers, you are called to have great hearts here, counter-cultural and brave. You can build something better, freer, more generous, and nobler,” he said, insisting that rebuilding society began in the home.
Husbands and wives have to be “all-in” for their sacramental marriage vows, explained Olmsted. This means that couples need to be open to new life, whether “by way of the marital act” or through adoption and fostering.
"Do not be afraid to sink your roots deeply into the living water that is Jesus Christ. He will not abandon you,” said Olmsted. “Lead your family, and lead in whatever other place the Lord asks, with deep and childlike faith in Him."
The family, Olmsted said, was the sign that would defeat the heresies of the current age, all of which concerned the human body. Whether in reference to the true nature of marriage, life, and gender, or the resurrection of Christ, when the dignity of the body is questioned, Olmsted said, the truth preached by the Church is cast aside, to the detriment of marriage and unborn children.
Sacramental marriage “stands now in the way of the gender ideology,” he said, insisting that Catholics must proclaim the truth and oppose attempts to weaken marriage and the family - attempts which “do nothing to strengthen our great country.”
“Look at the vociferous opposition to the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act,” said Olmsted, referring to Congressional attempts to legislate to require that doctors provide age-appropriate care for infants who survive late-term abortions.
“Where does this blatant disregard come from?” he asked. “From a hardened heart.”
Olmsted said it is the great duty of Catholics to “stand up for each child,” offering a courageous witness for life. This, he said, requires each person to “expand our hearts to receive that child” and to “stand in the breech left by hardened hearts.”
“We Christians, then, must stand up for this reality of marriage today, in our homes, and in the public square, despite the real risk of persecution for doing so," he said.
“We can do this. We were made for such a time as this.”
Posted on 04/23/2019 23:01 PM (CNA Daily News)
Belfast, Northern Ireland, Apr 23, 2019 / 04:01 pm (CNA).- A Catholic church in Northern Ireland was desecrated with paint in the early hours of Easter Sunday morning, receiving disapproval from political officials.
Sacred Heart Church in Ballyclare, about 13 miles north of Belfast, had white paint thrown on it after midnight April 21.
Police arrested a 26 year-old man related to the “criminal damage.” He has cooperated with the police and has been released on bail.
A 35 year-old woman was also warned by the police for assisting an offender.
Noreen McClelland, a local politician of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, lamented the incident, saying, according to The Irish News: “This is an appalling, senseless act, the motive being to cause hurt and distress to the Catholic community of Ballyclare. Easter Sunday is a special date in the Christian calendar and for the congregation to find their church defaced in such a way is totally unacceptable.”
Members from the Democratic Unionist Party also spoke against the vandalism. MP Paul Girvan and assembly members Pam Cameron and Trevor Clarke released a joint statement, noting that these actions did not represent the community as a whole.
"All places of worship should be free from attack and from the fear of attack,” they said, according to The Irish News. “We stand with our neighbours at this time and assure them of our support.”
Religious disputes have long been part of the history of Northern Ireland, which is predominantly Protestant and is part of the United Kingdom, while the majority-Catholic Republic of Ireland gained its independence in 1916.
The region has had ongoing religiously and politically based conflicts, most notably “the Troubles”, which included violent clashes that lasted from the late 1960s until 1998, when the Good Friday Agreement was struck.
Since 1998, there has been only sporadic sectarian violence in Northern Ireland.
In July, St. Mary's church in Limavady was vandalized with sectarian graffiti. Paramilitary slogans from an anti-Catholic group marked a door and some of the walls of the church, and a large crucifix outside of the church was also painted on.
In October 2017, the loyalist paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force made threats which forced four Catholic families to flee their homes at a social housing project in Belfast.
Recent demographic figures have suggested that Catholics will likely outnumber Protestants in Northern Ireland by 2021. According to the last census, in 2011, Protestants outnumbered Catholics in Northern Ireland by just three percent.
Posted on 04/23/2019 22:05 PM (CNA Daily News)
Havana, Cuba, Apr 23, 2019 / 03:05 pm (CNA).- While recent policy changes in the U.S. have left the people of Cuba facing increasing uncertainty, the message of the Catholic Church is always that security is ultimately found in Christ, said a priest from the island nation.
“This is the task of the Church: to say that salvation is found only is Jesus, who gives concrete, precise answers to the person seeking the truth,” said Fr. Yosvany Carvajal, pastor of the Cathedral of the Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Havana and director of the Father Felix Varela Cultural Center.
“Ideologies don't save people, ideologies are ideas. They are a body of ideas that exist in various political systems; but man's definitive salvation is found only in that true man and true God who has come to speak to us of an everlasting love that saves,” the priest told Vatican News April 21.
He highlighted the participation of the faithful in the Holy Week celebrations, saying that although the Church in Cuba is poor, it is “a living Church” with hope in “the Risen One who has conquered death, sin and evil.”
Religious celebrations were publicly banned in Cuba after the triumph of Fidel Castro's revolution. However, Christmas became a holiday beginning in 1997, as a concession to the request by Saint John Paul II before his visit in January 1998.
Likewise, during his visit to Cuba in March 2012, Benedict XVI made the same request for Good Friday. The communist government allowed its celebration as an exception in 2012 and 2013, and made it an official holiday beginning in 2014.
Carvajal said the faith of the Cuban people can be seen particularly clearly during Holy Week.
“Signs of Christianity are seen everywhere, and also popular religiosity. You can see that all this is alive, present in the people,” the priest said. He pointed to the high participation in Good Friday services as a sign that the people desire to be close to Christ in his Church.
The Cuban priest also said the Church in the country “is a Church that accompanies the people, which is suffering, especially these days due to the embargo policy.”
Last week, the Trump administration announced new penalties and tighter sanctions on Cuba. Among the new policies is the activation of a previously unused provision allowing U.S. citizens to sue foreign companies that operate on property confiscated by the government following the Castro revolution.
As a result of this, Carvajal said, “the population is going through hard times because they don't know what is going to happen.”
“The economic situation is not easy, but the Cuban people are a joyful people,” he said, and they never lose “the sense of the joy of living.”
He recalled the visits that Saint John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis made to Cuba, which “helped greatly the Church to not be afraid.”
“The people now find themselves in this difficult situation following the measures announced by the U.S. Government. There is concern,” he noted. “But with the message of the Gospel we must always announce the joy and hope of the definitive triumph of Christ. We must always continue on this path of announcing reconciliation and dialogue as the only possible way of seeking the true good.”
This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.
Posted on 04/23/2019 21:23 PM (CNA Daily News)
Philadelphia, Pa., Apr 23, 2019 / 02:23 pm (CNA).- After a yearlong legal struggle, a federal appeals court has ruled that city contractors in Philadelphia must place foster children with same-sex couples, a ruling that threatens the future of the local Catholic archdiocese’s foster placement program.
“We’re disappointed that the court decided to let the city place politics above the needs of kids and the rights of parents, but we will continue this fight,” said Lori Windham, senior counsel at the legal group Becket, which is representing the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Catholic Social Services.
Becket noted that despite being hundreds of beds short of what is necessary to serve the children in the foster care system, the City of Philadelphia failed to renew the Catholic foster care agency’s contract.
“The need to find those children homes is so dire that earlier this year the city put out an urgent call for 300 new families to become foster parents,” the institute wrote in an April 22 release.
“But shortly after this call for help, the city inexplicably prohibited Catholic Social Services from placing any more children with the families it has certified—solely because of the agency’s religious beliefs. There are dozens of families licensed to foster through Catholic Social Services who are willing to take in children, but because of the city’s actions, their beds have remained empty for close to a year.”
The City of Philadelphia received an allegation in March 2018 that two of the Department of Human Services’ 30 or so contracted agencies would not place children with same-sex couples as foster parents. After the department investigated, it stopped referring foster children to those agencies.
One of those agencies was Catholic Social Services (CSS), an arm of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia that has been working with foster children since its founding in 1917. CSS serves about 120 foster children in about 100 homes at any one time.
City officials cited the group’s unwillingness to place foster children with same-sex couples due to its religious beliefs on traditional marriage, even though lawyers for Catholic Social Services argued that no same-sex couple had ever approached the agency asking for certification to accept foster children.
Catholic Social Services in its lawsuit sought an order to require the city to renew its contract with them, arguing that the city’s decision violated their religious freedom under the constitution. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled against CSS in its April 22 ruling.
“The City’s nondiscrimination policy is a neutral, generally applicable law, and the religious views of CSS do not entitle it to an exception from that policy,” Circuit Judge Thomas Ambro concluded.
Catholic Social Services has never been the subject of discrimination complaints by same-sex couples. The agency says that it assists all children in need, regardless of a child’s race, color, sex, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity.
“CSS will only certify foster parents who are either married or single; it will not certify cohabitating unmarried couples, and it considers all same-sex couples to be unmarried. So far as the record reflects, no same-sex couples have approached CSS seeking to become foster parents,” Judge Ambro wrote.
Despite this, Ambro concluded that the City of Philadelphia “stands on firm ground in requiring its contractors to abide by its non-discrimination policies when administering public services,” and that the record demonstrates, in his view, the “City’s good faith in its effort to enforce its laws against discrimination” rather than an anti-religious bias.
Several foster families who relied on Catholic Social Services to help foster children were plaintiffs in the case, including the late Cecilia Paul, who has fostered more than 100 children, and Sharonell Fulton, the leading plaintiff who has worked with the agency for 25 years.
The U.S. Supreme Court in August 2018 declined to grant an injunction that would require the city to continue its foster-care placement with the agency during litigation over the matter.
Philadelphia is not the only city to refuse to work with a Catholic organization on the issue of foster care and adoption placement. In Buffalo, Catholic Charities recently ceased adoption and foster care work due to rules that would have forced the organization to violate their religious beliefs. Catholic Charities had done work with adoption in Buffalo for nearly a century before the rule change.
In recent years, faith-based child welfare providers in multiple states including in Massachusetts, Illinois, California, and the District of Columbia, have also been forced to shut down their adoption and foster care services because of beliefs that children should be placed with a married mother and father.
Posted on 04/23/2019 20:30 PM (CNA Daily News)
Washington D.C., Apr 23, 2019 / 01:30 pm (CNA).- The National Catholic Prayer Breakfast heard an uncompromising call to holiness and the defense of every human life Tuesday, with speakers calling for a “Catholic great awakening.”
A total of 1,400 gathered in Washington, DC for the 15th-annual prayer breakfast, where keynotes were delivered by Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix and Curtis Martin, founder and director of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students.
Leading attendees in the Divine Mercy Chaplet, Sr. Bethany Madonna, S.V., vocations director for the Sisters of Life, told the nation’s assembled Catholic leaders to be undaunted by their own failings and limitations. Christ “loves you, and wants your weakness,” she said.
“You can be strong with his strength,” she told the audience, “and you will be able to endure the insults that come with defending every human life.”
Pro-life activist Abby Johnson also addressed the crowd, urging them to work towards a society in which abortion was “unthinable” and its legality became irrelevant.
In his keynote address, FOCUS president Curtis Martin noted that human history was punctuated by periods of renewal, sparked by a return to God in a spirit of atonement. But instead of doom and gloom, he said, the coming generation of young Catholics has the potential to do great things.
The current generation, he said, are “survivors by God’s design” having been born after abortion was legalized and are poised to “wake up” and “vanquish the devil in this generation.”
The United States has experienced ebbs and flows in religious devotion before, and has seen two “great awakenings” among Protestants that resulted in renewed faith for believers. Perhaps, said Martin, this is what the Church in America needs.
"Wouldn't it be a great time for a Catholic great awakening?"
Also among the speakers to address the the pro-life cause was acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, who assured the audience of the president’s personal commitment to protecting the unborn.
Trump was frequently criticized during the 2016 presidential campaign for his past statements in support of abortion. Since his election, the administration has made efforts to block state funding for abortion a consistent theme, renforcing the Mexico City policy preventing U.S. from going to organizations which fund or promote abortion.
Mulvaney told the crowd that uncompromisingly pro-life language in the 2019 State of the Union address was expanded at the president’s personal insistence.
Trump used the speech to condemn the newly-passed Reproductive Health Act in New York, which widely expanded abortion access. He was also critical of efforts to pass a similar law in Virginia. According to Mulvaney, these comments were Trump’s own last-minute additions to the text, made by hand as he reviewed the final draft.
Despite political battles and increased polarization in national political life, Mulvaney said that was “comfortable” serving in the Trump administration and with its priorities.
“The principles of our [Catholic] faith are alive and well and well-respected in this administration and are driving many of our policies,” Mulvaney said.
Posted on 04/23/2019 17:59 PM (CNA Daily News)
Washington D.C., Apr 23, 2019 / 10:59 am (CNA).- A D.C. federal appeals court has ruled that the chaplain for the House of Representatives cannot be forced to allow a self-described atheist to proclaim a secular prayer publicly to the body.
The decision, delivered on Good Friday, said the House rules allow for a religious invocation at the start of its work day, and a secular prayer does not qualify as a religious invocation.
The suit was raised by Dan Barker with the Freedom from Religion Foundation. He had asked to be a guest chaplain for the House of Representatives, but had been rejected by the House chaplain, Fr. Patrick Conroy.
Barker claimed that he had been rejected because he was an atheist, which he said amounted to an unconstitutional establishment of religion by Congress.
But the appeals court said the prayer was rejected because it was non-religious in nature, which renders it irrelevant that the proposed minister was an atheist.
“Even though we accept as true Barker’s allegation that Conroy rejected him 'because he is an atheist,' the House’s requirement that prayers must be religious nonetheless precludes Barker from doing the very thing he asks us to order Conroy to allow him to do: deliver a secular prayer,” wrote Judge David Tatel on behalf of the three-judge panel.
He noted that Article 1, Section 5 of the Constitution allows the House to make its own rules. “Accordingly, we accept the House’s interpretation of its own rules as requiring a religious prayer,” he said.
Conroy, who has served as the House chaplain since May 2011, made headlines last year when he offered his resignation but then rescinded the resignation two weeks later.
He told then-Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) that he would not leave voluntarily and that Ryan would have to fire him if he wished for him to leave his role.
Conroy said Ryan’s chief of staff had asked him to resign, commenting on a prayer that he had offered several months earlier, which was perceived as critical of the Republicans’ tax bill.
Ryan said that some House members had concerns about Conroy, and that he was not able to adequately tend to the spiritual needs of some Congressmen.
The Jesuit priest objected that he had never faced disciplinary measures or received any complaints about his ministry during his then-nearly seven years as House chaplain.
Ryan then said that he had decided to allow Conroy to “remain in his position as Chaplain of the House.”
Posted on 04/23/2019 17:16 PM (CNA Daily News)
Vatican City, Apr 23, 2019 / 10:16 am (CNA).- Pope Francis celebrated the feast of his patron St. George – Jorge in Spanish – by giving away rosaries to 6,000 young people from Milan, asking them to pray for him through Mary’s intercession.
The rosaries came from World Youth Day in Panama and were given to the Milanese youth during a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Mario Delpini of Milan in St. Peter’s Basilica Tuesday morning.
Papal spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said with this gesture Pope Francis “asked the young people to remember him in a special way in their prayer, particularly by entrusting him to the Virgin Mary.”
The same group of young people will be present at the general audience April 24.
The feast of St. George is the “onomastico,” or name day, of Pope Francis’ baptismal name: Jorge Mario Bergoglio. The day, April 23, is an official holiday in the Vatican.
The 6,000 boys and girls who received rosaries are on pilgrimage in Rome. They are part of the Ambrosian rite, named for St. Ambrose, who led the diocese in the 4th century.
The Ambrosian rite is still celebrated throughout the Archdiocese of Milan.
For his name day in 2018, Pope Francis gave away around 3,000 gelatos to homeless served by Caritas soup kitchens and shelters around Rome.
The papal almoner’s office, headed by Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, distributed the ice cream.
During the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy in 2016, Francis marked St. George’s feast day by hearing the confessions of 16 boys and girls in St. Peter’s Square.
Posted on 04/23/2019 14:09 PM (CNA Daily News)
Colombo, Sri Lanka, Apr 23, 2019 / 07:09 am (CNA).- The Islamic State claimed responsibility Tuesday for the Easter bombings in Sri Lanka that killed at least 321 people and left 500 injured.
“The perpetrators of the attack that targeted nationals of the countries of the coalitions and Christians in Sri Lanka before yesterday are fighters from the Islamic State,” the Islamic State said through its Aamaq news agency April 23.
Sri Lankan officials suspected the local Islamist group, the National Thowheed Jamath, of carrying out the attacks, but one government spokesman added that it was likely that an international network also supported the attacks.
In the past, the Islamic State has claimed attacks perpetrated by others that support their ideology, however, the sophistication of the seven coordinated suicide bombings in three Sri Lankan cities points to the possibility of direct involvement.
Sri Lanka’s minister of defense Ruwan Wijewardene claimed Tuesday that the church bombings in Sri Lanka were in retaliation for the mosque bombings in Christchurch New Zealand, AP reported. The office of New Zealand’s prime minister responded to the claim by saying that they had not seen any intelligence to support the connection.
Funeral Masses were held April 23 for the victims of the attacks on St. Sebastian's Catholic Church in Negombo and St. Anthony's Shrine in Colombo.
Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo, told EWTN that the local Catholic community has suffered tremendously because of the horrible massacre on Easter Sunday.
“We lost so many valuable lives in both churches ... a huge amount of people,” Cardinal Ranjith told EWTN News Nightly April 22.
The Sri Lankan cardinal said that he rushed to St. Anthony’s shrine as soon as he heard of the attack Sunday morning, but the police did not allow him to enter because they suspected that more bombs could be inside the church.
“From the outside I saw a lot of devastation outside the church,” Ranjith said. “When I saw so many bodies, I was completely moved and disturbed.”
The Knights of Columbus have pledged $100,000 in aid for victims of the Sri Lankan attacks to help Cardinal Ranjith rebuild and repair his Christian community.
“Terrorist attacks like those on Easter Sunday are the acts of those who reject the sanctity of life, human rights and religious freedom,” Carl Anderson, CEO and Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus said April 22.
“Globally, it is well documented that Christians are the most persecuted religious group today,” Anderson said. “Now is the time for every country to take concrete steps to protect their minority populations, including Christians, and to stop this persecution and slaughter.”
Investigations into the Easter attacks on two Catholic churches, an evangelical church, three hotels, and a private residence are ongoing. According to some reports, as many as 24 arrests have been made as Sri Lanka has declared a state of national emergency.
Pope Francis renewed his prayers for the victims in Sri Lanka and appealed for international support during his Regina Coeli address Monday.
“I pray for the many victims and wounded, and I ask everyone not to hesitate to offer this dear nation all the help that is necessary,” the pope said April 22.
“I also hope that everyone condemns these acts of terrorism, inhuman acts, never justifiable,” he said.
Posted on 04/22/2019 15:03 PM (CNA Daily News)
Colombo, Sri Lanka, Apr 22, 2019 / 08:03 am (CNA).- Police in Sri Lanka have detonated a suspicious package near St. Anthony’s church in Colombo on Easter Monday.
Local media reported scenes of panic and confusion April 22, as crowds fled the area after what has been described as a “small explosion.” Local police later confirmed the blast was the controlled destruction of a suspect item found in a nearby van.
The controlled detonation was carried out but local authorities at approximately 3:30pm local time Monday afternoon. It took place in the immediate area of St. Anthony’s Catholic church and national shrine, which was at the center of the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks.
Small explosion outside St Anthony’s church right now. People fleeing the scene pic.twitter.com/GjadgTwoZ5
— michael safi (@safimichael) April 22, 2019
The controlled explosion follows the defusing of what the Times of London called a "large pipe bomb" near Colombo airport overnight, and authorities remain on high alert over the possibility of further attacks.
According to some reports, as many as 24 arrests have been made, and investigations are ongoing.
The Easter attacks, which have claimed more than 290 lives and injured a further 500, targeted several churches including St. Anthony’s, as well as three hotels, a zoo, and a private residence.
World leaders have offered statements of condolence and solidarity to the island nation as government officials have appealed for unity in the face of the terrorist action.
Details of the attacks have continued to emerge, with police confirming that several of the explosions were the result of suicide bombers.
While no group has yet claimed responsibility for the coordinated series of attacks, Sri Lankan prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe indicated on Monday that local intelligence and security services had been circulating warnings of an impending attack on churches 10 days before Easter.
Senior police officers have been reported saying the warnings referred to the domestic Islamic terror group National Thowheeth Jama’ath.
Wickremesinghe said this information was not shared with him or his cabinet, and that he was investigating why additional precautions did not appear to have been taken. The prime minister also said that the immediate priority was to arrest those responsible.
While the prime minister confirmed that “so far the names that have come up [as suspects] are local”, cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said on Monday that the government was considering the role of overseas terrorist groups.
“We do not believe these attacks were carried out by a group of people who were confined to this country. There was an international network without which these attacks could not have succeeded,” Senaratne said.
Concerns have previously been raised in Sri Lanka about a potential spike in terrorist violence following the return of Islamist radicals to the country in the aftermath of the collapse of Islamic State.
As security services and police continue their investigations, Pope Francis renewed his prayers for the victims and appealed for international support.
Speaking from the balcony of the Apostolic Palace on Monday, the pope condemned the “inhuman” terrorist attacks shortly before leading the Regina Coeli prayers.
“I pray for the many victims and wounded, and I ask everyone not to hesitate to offer this dear nation all the help that is necessary,” the pope said.
I also hope that everyone condemns these acts of terrorism, inhuman acts, never justifiable.”
Posted on 04/22/2019 13:34 PM (CNA Daily News)
London, England, Apr 22, 2019 / 06:34 am (CNA).- The United Kingdom has once again delayed the launch of its constraints on virtual porn. The online age verification program is now scheduled to launch mid-summer.
Digital Minister Matt Hancock signed a commencement order for the Digital Economy Act in 2017 as a means to curb pornography access by those under 18.
After two years of development and numerous delays, the program is now scheduled to be released on July 15. A few parts of the program have been updated since the project was originally expected to launch on April 1.
To view online pornography, internet users will need to confirm their age by entering information from a driver’s license, credit card, or passport. If users do not wish to input their personal information, they may purchase a special ID card, available at thousands of retail shops across the nation for under £10.
For a website to be monitored, more than a third of the site must be dedicated to pornography, ruling out platforms such as Twitter and Reddit, which are known to have small pockets of pornography. Non-commercial pornographic sites will also be exempt.
Government officials say they hope social media companies will make an effort to protect children from encountering pornographic material.
“We know that pornography is available on some social media platforms and we expect those platforms to do a lot more to create a safer environment for children,” a Department of Digital Culture, Media and Sport spokesman told the BBC.
“If we do not see action then we do not rule out legislating in the future to force companies to take responsibility for protecting vulnerable users from the potentially harmful content that they host,” the spokesman said.
Originally, websites that failed to follow the age verification rules were expected to face a nearly $330,000 fine, but this will not be enforced because of the difficulty enforcing payment from porn companies overseas. Rather, the government said a threat to block noncompliant websites should be sufficient to ensure conformity, the BBC reported.
In March, Matt Fradd, author of The Porn Myth and creator of the new 21-day porn detox STRIVE, voiced support for increased restrictions surrounding pornography.
“If it’s something as simple as age verification, I’m all for it,” he told CNA. “It just sounds like we are expecting the same thing of people online that we already expect of them offline.”
Among the available age verification services is AgeID, built by MindGeek, which operates and owns several common pornographic sites.
Some critics of the new UK policy say it violates the privacy of pornography users.
“Data leaks could be disastrous. And they will be the government's own fault,” said Jim Killock from the Open Rights Group, according to the BBC.
The UK’s National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) said the age verification is a valuable first step, but that other measures need to be taken alongside it.
“The NSPCC is calling for social networks to be required by law to give under-18s safe accounts with extra protections built in, so that children are kept as safe online as they are in the real world,” read a statement from the organization, according to BirminghamLive.
Children’s access to online pornography has been identified as a significant problem: A 2016 study by internet security company Bitdefender found that about 1 in 10 visitors to porn video sites is under age 10.
Fight the New Drug, an organization that works to educate on the harmful effects of pornography, has highlighted numerous studies showing the negative impact of pornography on underage users, including the creation of addictions, changes in sexual taste, and physical impact on the brain.
“Just more broadly, I would say pornography perverts a child’s understanding of human intimacy and sexual life, which is a very beautiful thing,” Fradd stressed.
“It’s as pernicious as sex is beautiful and human intimacy is worthwhile. Since those two things are beautiful and worthwhile, the corruption of it [in regards to] a child is all together something despicable and horrid.”