ROME, APRIL 4, 2003 (Zenit.org).- A Vatican aide lamented the legal vacuum that exists in regards to sexual tourism, and he called for an appreciation of the efforts by religious institutions to combat pedophilia.
Archbishop Pietro Monni, permanent observer of the Vatican to the World Tourism Organization, highlighted the legal deficiency when he addressed the European Conference for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation. The two-day conference ended today in Rome.
The Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela and Kenya were the countries the archbishop mentioned as the principal objects of sexual tourism.
This “new form of slavery” is the result of an “apathetic policy, the economic greed of local privileged classes, the poverty of certain countries, and the struggle for survival of some sectors of the population,” he stressed.
One of the causes of the “enormous increase in sexual tourism is the lack of appropriate laws” but also, even when there are severe penal norms, the absence of “effective measures directed to their application,” or the existence of “police complicity,” the archbishop lamented.
The Vatican representative spoke about the role of the Church in promoting healthy and responsible tourism, and of the constant efforts and concrete commitments of religious institutions worldwide in the struggle against all forms of exploitation of children.
“I have personally accompanied nuns who went out late at night in a jeep on the streets of Bangkok to collect the children being displayed in private premises and centers,” the archbishop recalled.
They courageously challenged “dramatic situations and criminal groups, a memory “I carry always with me,” he added.
Archbishop Monni also referred to John Paul II’s repeated condemnation of this phenomenon. In October 1997 the Pope “described child prostitution as a ‘world scourge.'”
The Vatican permanent observer concluded his address by saying that “not only in Europe and the United States, but in all the continents, the episcopal conferences are moving to address with more appropriate means the tentacles of this destabilizing monster of pedophilia.”