DENVER (CWN) - The president of a major cable television company told a conference of US and foreign bishops on Thursday that the Internet can be both a blessing and a burden that is both an evangelistic tool and a source of "stunningly immoral" material.

      Leo Hindery, president of Tele-Communications, Inc., told the conference on "The New Technologies and the Human Person" sponsored by the Archdiocese of Denver that the Internet could be a powerful tool for communication between pastors and bishops and their congregations and between individual Catholics. "But as you can see, the Internet can be stunningly immoral. It has the power to corrupt absolutely, and your congregation needs your guidance on how to address the real world risks associated with it," Hindery told the 50 assembled bishops.

      To highlight the immorality possible online, Hindery cited the example of a web site run by a young woman named Jennie who has set up a camera that broadcasts her life to subscribers, including moments of "dressing, sleeping, working, playing with her cat, and having sex." He advised the bishops to "remind your parishioners that they have the power and the moral responsibility to be the censors for themselves and for their families." Hindery said parents and not the government must be the censors of what children see.

      "There's a great sadness in my heart for her (Jennifer) but also for those who go there to the site because it shows there's something missing from their lives," Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver said when asked to comment about the Jennicam Web site.

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March 30, 1998 volume 9, no. 63         DAILY CATHOLIC