Catholic bishops to address challenge of cyberspace

Dozens of European Catholic bishops and media experts are to convene this week at the Vatican to be shown the mysteries of the Internet and discuss the challenges it brings, a spokesman said Monday.

The annual meeting of the European Episcopal Commission for Media will be held at the Vatican from Thursday through Sunday and focus on the "new technology" of cyberspace, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told AFP.

"Translating the Christian message into the present interactive (Internet) culture" will be among the issues debated at the four-day meeting, the EECM said in a statement.

Representatives from the social network Facebook, the Google search engine, the YouTube video sharing website and the online encyclopaedia Wikipedia will explain "how people (and especially young people) use these sites," said the Swiss-based Vatican agency.

Participants will also learn ways to combat cyber-crime, the EECM said. "Another culture exists on the Internet, parallel and largely unknown by the Church, but not by information fanatics. It is the world of the hackers."

A young Swiss hacker and an Interpol expert on cyber-crime will address the meeting, it said.

The Vatican meeting "will be an opportunity to see how it is possible to defend oneself against attacks of this kind, but also to see the technological and legal limitations of the Internet," the statement said.