Staff and clergy at Catholic churches in Germany allegedly made mass attempts to access porn websites.
Around 1,000 attempts to view restricted material on church-supplied computers were reportedly made by up to 15 employees in the Archdiocese of Cologne over a one-month period.
Most of the suspicious activity concerned pornographic sites, according to a report in the German newspaper Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger.
A month of tests were run on the church’s IT security systems between May and June of last year.
They were not specifically aimed at investigating the behavior of staff or clergy but revealed major religious and labor rules may have been broken, including by a senior figure.
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Up to “1,000 access attempts to pages…were blocked by a protective filter because of questionable, undesirable content and potential threats to IT security”, the report claimed.
The church had also been “checking whether the firewalls reliably fend off attempts to access sites that pose a risk in terms of IT security”.
The diocese leadership was reportedly made aware of the matter, with at least one senior clergy member identified.
The archdiocese said it was “aware of the difficulty of the issue” but added that no crimes had technically been committed.
Watching pornography on archdiocese computers is strictly banned.
Pornography is viewed as morally reprehensible and a grave sin in the Catholic faith.
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While watching it is not punishable under either state or church law, they staff members may have broken a labor agreement with archdiocese in west Germany.
Archdiocese officials have reportedly passed over the information to Cologne investigators despite no indication that the material being viewed on the computers was illegal.
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