Benedict targets sex, violence - and toy guns

Pope Benedict has slammed violent or sexually explicit video games and films targetting young children, a day after he offered support to an Italian project which aims to take toy guns out of children's hands.

Associated Press reports that Pope Benedict condemned violent or sexually explicit video games and animated films for young people as a repulsive perversion, saying he was concerned that media could have more influence on children than their family or teachers do.

In a message to mark the church's World Communications Day, Benedict said the media's "pervasive influence" makes them a strong force in the education of children, possibly rivalling the roles of school, church and home.

"Any trend to produce programs and products - including animated films and video games - which in the name of entertainment exalt violence and portray anti-social behaviour or the trivialisation of human sexuality is a perversion, all the more repulsive when these programs are directed at children and adolescents," Benedict said.

"How could one explain this 'entertainment' to the countless innocent young people who actually suffer violence, exploitation and abuse?" he asked.

The Pope said children should be introduced to classic literature, fine arts and "uplifting music".

Efforts by parents, teachers and the church in educating children can be supported by the media industry "only to the extent that it promotes fundamental human dignity, the true value of marriage and family life, and the positive achievements and goals of humanity," Benedict said.

Earlier, the Pope had lent his support to an Italian government-backed project titled "The Different Game" aiming to take toy guns out of the hands of children, ANSA reports.

The project which has already collected nearly 6,200 toy guns has also come under fire from many Italians, the Italian agency says.

"As long as these make-believe gun battles happen in a healthy family environment, that's no problem. It can even help kids come to terms with the existence of violence," said Elisabetta Scala, the head of a local parents' association.

Pope condemns violent or sexually explicitly video games and films aimed at youngsters (The Star, Malaysia, 24/1/07)
Pope Offers Support To Toy Gun Project (Playfuls, 24/1/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Pope John Paul II, World Communications Day messages
Inter Mirifica (Vatican II Decree on the Media of Social Communications)

Media violence desensitises young people, says youth advocate (CathNews, 3/11/06)
Priest reflects concern about sex shop near school (CathNews, 7/4/05)

25 Jan 2007

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