There are a few posts which I could reply to (that relate to other issues), but I'd rather just speak about the topic at hand.
Here is an article which gives the quote some context:
In a message released Jan. 24 for the 41st World Communications Day, to be observed May 20, the pope called upon media leaders, parents, Catholic parishes and schools to work to expose children to what is “aesthetically and morally excellent” and to help them acquire “skills of discernment.” http://www.catholic.org/international/international_story.php?id=22807
Parents and teachers have a responsibility “to educate children in the ways of beauty, truth and goodness,” the pope said, adding that effort “can be supported by the media industry only to the extent that it promotes fundamental human dignity, the true value of marriage and family life and the positive achievements and goals of humanity.”
“Any trend to produce programs and products – including animated films and video games – which in the name of entertainment exalt violence and portray anti-social behavior or the trivialization of human sexuality is a perversion, all the more repulsive when these programs are directed at children and adolescents,” Pope Benedict said.
He decried such “entertainment” directed to adolescents as an affront “to the countless innocent young people who actually suffer violence, exploitation and abuse.”
The message, directed to the World Communications Day 2007 theme of “Children and the Media: A Challenge for Education,” pointed to the dramatic impact of media on education of young people, its shaping of the cultural landscape and its facilitation by globalization and the “rapid development of technology.”
“Indeed,” the pope said, “some claim that the formative influence of the media rivals that of the school, the church and maybe even the home.”
In this environment, “training in the proper use of the media is essential for the cultural, moral and spiritual development of children,” the pope said.
He pointed to the education of “children to be discriminating” consumers to be responsibility of parents, the church, schools and the wider community.
The role of parents in forming children is primary, he said. “They have a right and duty to ensure the prudent use of the media by training the conscience of their children to express sound and objective judgments which will then guide them in choosing or rejecting programs available.”
Children, he stressed, should be “exposed to what is aesthetically and morally excellent,” including “children’s classics in literature, to the fine arts and to uplifting music.”
"Beauty, a kind of mirror of the divine, inspires and vivifies young hearts and minds, while ugliness and coarseness have a depressing impact on attitudes and behavior," Pope Benedict said.
In acknowledging that “popular literature will always have its place in culture,” the pope warned of “the temptation to sensationalize” in the choice of content in schools.
“So often freedom is presented as a relentless search for pleasure or new experiences,” the pope said. “Yet this is a condemnation, not a liberation! True freedom could never condemn the individual – especially a child – to an insatiable quest for novelty.”
“Parents,” he added, are “guardians of that freedom” who, “while gradually giving their children greater freedom, introduce them to the profound joy of life.”
He called upon the media industry “to safeguard the common good, to uphold the truth, to protect individual human dignity and to promote respect for the needs of the family.”
Catholic parishes and schools should offer support to parents and young people in promoting media education, he said.
“The church,” he said, “desires to share a vision of human dignity that is central to all worthy human communication.”
I must commend the Holy Father for giving this issue, that of glorifying violence and trivializing sexuality, more public awareness.
As a video game player, I don't have any objections to what he said. In fact, I have wondered about the morality of playing violent video games in the past. When I think about it, the video games that I like to play do not glorify violence, nor do they trivialize sexuality. Come on, they're Nintendo games! The Legend of Zelda series is just as much about exploring a huge land and solving devious puzzles as it is about killing enemies (who aren't even human). Also, Link is presented as a morally upstanding individual, and the games outright encourage us to help others (we're rewarded for doing so). And so, I don't think that my playing The Legend of Zelda series is morally wrong. I have, however, experienced uncomfort while playing Grand Theft Auto games, because I knew what I could possibly do in those games, and so I rarely ever play them.
Another thing I wanted to mention really quickly is music. After becoming more religious over the past several years, I've felt uneasy about some of the songs I used to enjoy and now I generally tend to skip them.
I may have some more comments later, but right now I have to go. It's great to be back, and it's also nice to see a lot of new faces!
In layman's terms, I think the pope was saying, "Creating things - including video games - that glorify violence, anti-social behavior or minimalize human sexuality in the name of entertainment is wrong."
The pope did not condemn all video games, or even people who play video games, because not all video games have those elements which he considers to be wrong (a perversion). I would suppose, however, that it would be wrong to experience joy after doing something morally wrong in a video game (e.g. stealing a car, murdering an innocent person). This is true because sin can be commited by thought, word, and deed (even those that are "make believe").