The party presenting the data claimed to have the best interest of the Church at heart in offering the data to Catholics. He voiced fears that such information could wind up in “the wrong hands,” and be used to blackmail Church officials or otherwise hurt the Church.
CNA spoke to a moral theologian familiar with the moral challenges posed by emerging technologies. He acknowledged that giving the data to faithful concerned Catholics might enable them to urge bishops to “do something about the gravely sinful and potentially scandalous behavior of some of their priests or seminarians.”
But, he added, “what happens if those bishops don’t do anything, or even worse, what if they let the individuals in question know they are being tracked and just simply let them take digital counter-measures,” such as using disposable mobile devices that are harder to track.
He and others who spoke to CNA raised the concern that this technology could be “weaponized” against bishops and priests, with the tactics justified in the name of reforming the Church.
Profound moral and legal questions have been raised by government surveillance, which is supposed to be authorized only in cases of clear threats to national security and carried out under strict supervision by government courts.
“Since this information already exists, it is clearly preferable that it is in Catholic hands, assuming that they are motivated by a profound spirit of charity and concern for the wellbeing of the Church,” said the moral theologian, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
“The big question is if this information should be available at all, considering that it is hard to make the case that it was acquired in a completely legal and moral manner.”
Alejandro Bermudez, born in Lima, Peru is the Executive Director of the ACI Group, which includes ACI Prensa, ACI Digital, ACI Stampa, CNA Deutsche, and ACI Africa and the former Executive Director of Catholic News Agency. He is also the host of the show "Cara a Cara" on EWTN in Spanish.