Pope condemns child pornography: 'Criminality available to everyone'

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Child pornography is "criminality available to everyone through their phones," Pope Francis said.

Discussing abuse prevention with representatives of a safeguarding research and formation center from Latin America Sept. 25, the pope put aside his prepared remarks to address "a problem that is very serious on this matter of abuse, the filming of child pornography."

"Unfortunately, by paying a small fee, one can have it one their phone," he said. "Where is this child pornography made? In which country is it made? Nobody knows. But it is criminality available to everyone through their phones."

"Please let us talk about this, too," Pope Francis urged the group of professionals from a variety of fields working to combat abuse in the church across Latin America. "These children who are recorded, are victims, sophisticated victims of this consumer society."

In August, the pope told reporters during his return flight from Portugal that livestreamed sexual abuse of minors is "one of the greatest scourges" of society today.

At the Vatican Sept. 25, he told the safeguarding representatives that the church has come a long way in combatting abuse thanks to "prophetic pastors" like Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley of Boston, president of the Commission for the Protection of Minors, who was in Rome for the commission's plenary assembly. The pope praised the cardinal, who was at the meeting, for being able to take hold of the "hot potato" that was the clerical sex abuse crisis in Boston.

Still, Pope Francis recalled the "sad reality" of abuse cases in the church and in the world, objecting to people who may say, "ah, there aren't so many."

"If it were only one, it would already be scandalous, just one, and there are more than one," he said.

The pope also asked the safeguarding representatives not to reduce their efforts in combatting abuse to merely applying established protocols, but to "entrust them to Jesus in prayer."