Pope John Paul II has called for controls on the internet to prevent "depravity" flooding cyberspace.
The 81 year-old pontiff, who has no email address, said that the web should be used to spread the word of God and encourage global peace.
While he admitted that it offered access to immense knowledge, the Pope argued that the internet did not provide wisdom and could be easily perverted to demean human dignity.
In a message prepared for World Communications Day the Pope said: "Despite its enormous potential for good, some of the degrading and damaging ways the internet can be used are obvious to all."
He called on public authorities to guarantee that the web serves the common good and does not become a source of harm.
The internet encouraged people to think that facts were more important than discovering meaning in life. "Understanding and wisdom are the fruits of a contemplative eye on the world and do not come from a mere accumulation of facts," he warned.
The Pope added that the Catholic church had adapted to technological discoveries in the past, including the printing press and the Industrial Revolution.
"Like the new frontiers of the past this one too is full of the interplay of danger and promise," he said.
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