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Pornography: Our Greatest Ongoing Spiritual Threat

The bishops of the United States gathered together last week for their annual meeting in Baltimore. One of the issues that they chose to address this year concerns what is perhaps the greatest ongoing threat to the spiritual and physical health of the Catholics in United States. It breaks up marriages, kills the state of grace, and in many cases destroys the possibility of vocations to the priesthood and to the religious life. It is a plague and its name is: pornography.

Pornography brings huge profits to those who make and market it commercially. Much of this kind of pornography issues from Los Angeles and unfortunately has spread not only throughout our nation but throughout the world, lending credence to those like Islamic extremists who denounce the West’s decadence. Although pornography is overwhelmingly marketed to and viewed by men, a substantial number of women also sample it out of curiosity and generally are disgusted by it (although a small number fall into the trap of using it themselves).

I write as a priest who hears thousands of confessions every year. When I was first ordained, the pornography that people confessed to using usually arrived at the person’s door in the form of magazines delivered to the house. Nowadays, virtually all pornography comes online, easily available to whoever wants to use it. The men addicted to it in this country number in the millions, and live in a fantasy world degrading to themselves and, in many cases, to their wives and girlfriends.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us as Christians to be on guard against pornography. We are not only to avoid seeking it out and using it, but also to reject any image or thought that we may accidentally encounter – for example, when we innocently go to a movie that surprises us with an explicit sex scene.

What can be done? Perhaps the bishops will have some “micro” recommendations for individuals to adopt as well as “macro” recommendations for society-wide approaches. Pornography, of course, like other categories of sin, is nothing new and probably will exist until the end of time. However, the extent of the problem, the difficulty of avoiding contamination, and the threat it poses to the innocence of children is an unprecedented byproduct of our era’s technological progress and moral regression. It is a good sign that the Church in the United States is wrestling with this deadly product that kills souls by the millions here and abroad.

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All Catholic families that want to bring up children with a healthy love of the goodness of sexuality, motherhood, and marriage should do everything possible to make their own homes pornography-free. In addition, all Catholic institutions of learning at every level should not neglect their duty to preach the beauty of chastity to their students, helping them to understand that the gravity of the abuse of sex is a consequence of its signal importance for God and for mankind: The attraction of male and female for one another, properly directed, allows human beings to participate in God’s plan of conceiving, bearing, and rearing human life. Part of God’s plan for peopling the heavenly realms with saved souls is the beauty of pure love and the holy marriages that come from such love.

I look forward to seeing how our bishops will handle this topic in the future. Using pornography not only harms the soul but also turns the user into a criminal, stealing something that does not belong to him. Consuming pornography causes many people to become addicted to it, and similar to other addictions, this one generally goads the addict into continually upping the dose and frequency to attain the same effect. It is no surprise, therefore, that pornography use can in some cases lead to rape, child abuse, and molestation.

Because consumption of pornography is often addictive as well as a sin, the addict of this deadly disease of the soul should not only confess this sin, but also seek professional help that can support their efforts to become porn-free.

As far as general methods go, we combat this kind of sin as we combat others. We begin by confessing our sins, and then, in the state of grace, we can receive the strengthening presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Devotion to the Blessed Mother is also a great help in combating impurity of all kinds. We should also take care to avoid the occasion of sin by putting a filter on our laptop or phone to prevent our accessing porn. Another aid is to never use a computer unless there is someone in the same room with you.

These are just a few ideas offered for those enmeshed in this kind of sinful behavior. Above all, as we approach the Year of Mercy announced by Pope Francis and beginning on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, repentant consumers of pornography, like any and all other sinners, should never despair of God’s mercy and forgiveness. They should never lose hope of the possibility of successfully freeing themselves from this enslavement, with the continuing help of God’s grace.

Fr. C. John McCloskey III

Fr. C. John McCloskey III

Fr. C. John McCloskey is a Church historian and Non-Resident Research Fellow at the Faith and Reason Institute.

  • JCatholic

    I have a hunch that the epidemic of pornography is one of the main reasons the homosexual lobby has been so successful in influencing the opinions for Americans to favor their cause. If one is addicted to porn, they are not going to have strong moral convictions regarding any aspect of sexual morality.

  • Fr Kloster

    Thank you Father for your comments on the subject.

    My approach to combat pornography in the confessional is two pronged. The penitent must understand that to root out a habit, he must always be aware of the frequency of the sin. His goal must be to incrementally reduce the number of grave offenses confession to confession. If he is diligent, over some months (depending on the severity of the addiction) he can eliminate mortal sins from his spiritual life.

    The first help is to immediately call on the intercession of Our Lady, St. Joseph, and St. John the Baptist. They are the three protectors of purity. When the temptations or sexual thoughts enter, that is the time to ask for the spiritual assistance from heaven.

    The second help are the sacramentals. Put a holy card next to your computer or in the vicinity of the hand held internet device. Bless yourself with (preferably exorcised) Holy Water before you go online. Put a rosary in your hand or nearby. Make sure a cross or holy picture is within sight. You may want to kiss your blessed scapular, cross, or holy card.

    I have seen great palpable spiritual results with the youth, young adults, and high school boys. Remember that any mortal sin must be rooted out. Then we must concentrate on perfecting ourselves by weeding out the venial sins of our spiritual garden. We can never have a completely weed free garden, but it can always be more perfected.

  • Chris in Maryland

    Thank you for speaking about this Father McCloskey.

    We are integrated creatures of body and soul.

    To Our Father in Heaven, sexuality is sacred.

    In our Manichean world, sexuality is just another commodity to be profaned, by pornographers, politicians, schools, hotel chains, and investors. Even some Catholic institutions, such as the German Catholic Conference, own shares in pornographic publishing houses, etc.

    So, our “contemporary age,” like others, doesn’t take sex seriously. We say to ourselves: “We can do what we want with the body, and their will be no harm to the soul;” implying that body and soul are not integrated.

    But when we abuse our bodies, we feel shame and isolation. This is the pain we feel when we tear our body from the soul…we feel the pain of disintegrating our very selves.

    We must be people who refuse to disintegrate ourselves.

    We as Catholic people need to be adults who understand and practice and speak about taking sexuality and marriage seriously, for our own salvation and flourishing, and for that of our children and our fellow man.

    Understanding and speaking seriously about sexuality and marriage takes grace and work. May God give us the grace to understand and speak of sexuality as Our Father intends us as his adult children. And as St. Thomas More reminds us: “These things we pray for, may God give us the grace to labor for.”

  • Manfred

    Thank you Father McCloskey and Father Kloster. It is priests, such as yourselves, who are the only hope on a one on one basis in the confessional or in small groups, of assisting the few faithful who are left. Forget the bishops. We are here due to fifty years of their negligence which continues to this day. Pornography? They couldn’t protect the faithful from their predator priests.
    We are living in a Church which has effectively lost the Faith. “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” I can recall the conffffessional lines every Saturday afternoon in the ’40s and the ’50s.
    The penitents were there because they feared eternal separation from God in Hell. The Church has removed Hell as a concern (see BISHOP Robert Barron, et al.), so lay people respond to the indefinetness of Modefnist-catholicism with the comment “I will take my chances, After the last fifty years I am no longer certain that God even exists.”

  • Walt

    Part of the problem:
    I have been in my current parish 24 years and have never heard a homily on the problem of pornography nor homosexuality or any other sexual sin.

    • Manfred

      Thank you, Walt. In our FSSP parish, which makes it quite clear that the priests are working under the assumption that the congregants are members as they wish to save their souls,
      announced a year ago that too many people were commiting serious sins repeatedly, despite the” firm purpose of amendment to avoid the occasions of sin and to sin no more.”
      The senior priest mentioned me that in the case of viewing smut or worse on a computer, if the penitent would not have a “block” placed on the “offending” computer, he would not be granted absolution.
      When the Lord grants one the gift of real Roman Catholic priests as confessors and homilists, some of us thank God on our knees.

  • Veritas

    When US soldiers have raided Muslim terrorist compounds, killing the supposedly non-decadent killers, our soldiers have found pornography at the scene.

    Not even the Islamic people have risen above this kind of decadence. Pornography appeals to the raw animal in all men, which is why it is so insidious and ultimately so Satanic.

    • John II

      And on display in abundance in the personal library of the late, unlamented Osama bin Laden. Fr. McCloskey’s aside about pornography’s “lending credence to those like Islamic extremists who denounce the West’s decadence” is perfunctory and shallow.

      Pornography is at root a Satanic lie, and it “lends credence” to nothing except a cogent observation of its principal effect: it destroys the capacity for human love.

      And the silence of the American bishops through the degenerate Clinton and Obama years, to me, “lends credence” to the thought that, with some saintly exceptions, the bishops have relinquished any moral authority that could “lend credence” to their witness against pornography.

  • George Sim Johnston

    Teaching marriage preparation, I sometimes hear complaints from women about their future husband’s use of pornography. I tell them that he should give it up immediately or the wedding is off.

  • St. Michael

    Thanks very much Fr. McCloskey! Two thoughts in addition to the confession and Eucharist sacraments. The first is — for all of us, even those who believe themselves not to be affected by this scourge — to bear witness to the virtue of modesty as a priority of charity. Pondering deeply the meaning of virtue in body, mind and spirit and how then we love our neighbor. Our Lord and Our Lady are the perfect models. And also there is a place in the Imitation of Christ where it talks about combatting evil thoughts at the very moment it enters our consciousness (paraphrasing) as with any evil thought we have only a brief portal of opportunity to reject and turn it over. Awareness is key. Sometimes, we walk around in terminal vagueness… and when we do, sin does reign.

  • Antoninus

    Amen! But it’s never preached … Or rarely. But there’s something worse. Contraception … Which is at the root. It turn human sexuality into a sport. and this is rarely if ever preached in most parishes.

  • NDaniels

    We can know through both Faith and reason that that which objectifies the human person, such as abortion, slavery, pornography, and identifying human persons according to sexual desire/inclination/orientation, denies the inherent Dignity of the human person as a beloved son or daughter. The question is, why are those who profess to be Catholic, but deny that God Is The Author of Love, of Life, and of Marriage, permitted to present themselves to receive The Holy Eucharist? Why are those who profess to be Catholic allowing dissent to grow and take root in Christ’s Church? Who are they serving if they do not desire to serve The Ordered Communion of Perfect Love, The Blessed Trinity? They are making His Father’s House a den of thieves.

  • Anonymous

    I joined the church in 1977, along with my family. We were enthusiastic to learn
    moral theology and had to ask a priest about the much abhorred and buried sin of “self-abuse.” The M word is, even now, as you see from your article, avoided. Nevertheless, the very popular “Playboy Magazine” was extremely popular with a huge majority of men who “read it for the articles.” So you see that far before the current plague of “pornography,” pornography was with us since the ’50s and before.
    Yes, it has become more and more ‘hard core,’ but it doesn’t have to be that way because a match is a fire too! What I want to say is I had to really dig to find out that the “M” word, self-abuse, is a MORTAL SIN. One of my sons in Catholic elementary school was told in his classroom by a visiting psychologist from Catholic Services,that the “M” word was a “perfectly normal” adolescent act and not a sin at all, and would soon be eliminated from the list of sins. In fact, it is very hard to find the one paragraph about it in the catechism. In fact, the very word itself is a ‘match.’ or a ‘spark.’ That is the reason this abhorrent plague has multiplied. Pornography is not the sin; the sin is masturbation and this has to be known.
    Pornography is the ‘near occasion of sin.

    • Dave Fladlien

      I apologize right now if I’m misunderstanding you, but I disagree with the statement that “Pornography is not the sin…” Even if the persons involved are consenting adults, I think pornography reduces at least one, maybe more, person(s) to the status of an object for someone else’s use. That’s not just true of sex; it’s true of businesses that “use” workers, workers who wrongfully manipulate employers, labor unions who “use” workers for power, and governments and others who “use” people for power or money. It dehumanizes the victim, even if the victim wants to be treated that way, and I think it dehumanizes the “user” as well.

      I’m going by memory here, but I believe it was St. John Paul II who made that point several times, and I think it is a very important point. Even when we legitimately employ the services of another, we must always consider the other person a precious brother or sister, not an object for our benefit. To my mind, that, not sex, is actually the biggest sin in pornography.

    • Manfred

      Go to the head of the class. When a nation wishes to increase its population from within, it promotes marriage and will even pay premiums to couples to have and raise children.
      When a nation wishes to decrease its population, it promotes pornography and homosexuality..It also insists on employers paying for contraceptives and abortifacients as well as abortion itself.. Does this sound familiar?

  • Dave Fladlien

    Basically I agree with your article, and it is always a timely subject. The need never seems to go away. But I do take issue with one concept that pops up in a couple of places, and that is the extent to which we should go to avoid unintended or even unexpected encounters with sexually explicit materials or persons behaving in sexually explicit ways.

    We all have to exist in the world, and we have to accept that we will encounter situations where we can’t reasonably do anything but encounter these sexually arousing persons or items. And we have to be prepared to deal appropriately with the situation when we can’t reasonably avoid or escape it. Just a couple of days ago I commented on TCT about the dress practices of some Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist, but I don’t leave Mass if the EM is obscenely dressed, I focus on something else, like the real presence of Jesus. The problem cannot be entirely solved in our world by avoiding all temptation: at some point one has to do what they tell kids to do about drug abuse: Just Say No. Just don’t consent. We have to take individual accountability for our actions, and that means at some point we have to say no to sin, not get out of the whole world to avoid all temptation as if being tempted automatically means we sin.

    I realize you didn’t intend this in your article, but I do think we have to be careful that we don’t convey, especially to young people or new converts who lack general experience in the world as a Christian, that being tempted means we will sin. We still have free will and free choice, and we can still use it, and we are still obligated to do so. Please let’s not let that fact get lost. Thanks.

    • havefaith69

      Thank you Dave for your comment. I have struggled with this issue for most of my life. You are correct: it is not the temptation; it is our reaction to it. I would like to share some tips from the counseling I have received: We see women every day and are attracted to them (as God meant it to be!). But instead of desiring her from a selfish perspective & turning her into an object, if we see her as someone’s daughter and a child of of God, we can shift our focus from the body to the true person inside. I have found that this “shifting” of thought has helped me greatly. I also pray the Rosary (via CD) while on my way to work each morning. It is important to limit computer activities as much as possible. Avoid idleness. And when tempted, pray – or better yet- call a friend. If all else fails, call a priest or seek professional help. Talking to someone will help relieve the extreme anxiety we feel when we’ve kept these feelings deep inside. I would also recommend to those who are married to talk with your wife about it. My wife and I have discussed everything, and she has been incredibly supportive. I am praying for all who are struggling with this. Please pray for me. God will help us overcome!

    • John II

      Nice points. My own Catholic faith came to me as a young adult via the example of my Jesuit educators back before the Jesuit Order started drifting from the faith they bequeathed to me. I grew up in a completely secularized household, and my wife, a “cradle Catholic,” sometimes chides me gently for being “too intellectual” in my grasp of the faith and more or less clueless about normal Catholic inculturation.

      Well, our four kids, whom we raised Catholic principally under my wife’s sensible guidance, are not so feeble and clumsy as their old man in the practice of their faith. They have about them what strikes me as a natural piety–the real thing, without a trace of the self-centered “pietism” that I’m told young monks have to be disabused of in their early formation.

      One striking result of such interior piety is that they seem to be utterly insulated against the obvious moral degradation in the culture. Their modesty is without a trace of priggishness or moral vanity, and when the topic has come up in this or that conversation, their revulsion against pornography is neither angry nor self-righteous; mostly it shows in expressions of sadness for this or that friend whom they know has been trapped by the “addiction.”

      I could not for the world explain how they acquired this kind of piety. All I know is that they are successfully passing it along to their own children. It’s not enough to say “good example”–there is something else about this piety (which I would define rather clumsily as a rightly ordered disposition toward God and His creation) that strikes me as above all a gift. And with it, a quiet habit of gratitude.

      And I don’t think it can be taught, not even by the Church.

      • mcblanc

        Real Deal Piety can be modeled–which is counted among the most effective of ways to teach. And–Yes–It is a gift… so… the following applies…

        Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

  • SMB

    One thing I think can be changed is the way our young girls are allowed to dress. Parents, pay attention: we could simply forbid our daughters to wear bikinis from toddler on and begin a movement to stop purchasing them. Stop letting others dictate what our girls wear, such as skin tight pants, low cut tops or too – short skirts in school uniforms. Unless these steps are taken we risk cheapening the image of all women. Ll

    • havefaith69

      From a male perspective, it helps when girls or women dress modestly. But men need to step up, grow up, and stop using that as an excuse. That girl or woman could be a relative – or your own daughter. And this is a conversation parents need to have right now with their children. Don’t let society raise your kids.

    • SJ Man

      As a father of two teenage and one 22-year old daughter, when I bring this up such as wearing leggings or tight jeans to church, they give the old “tell men to control themselves” excuse and actually say it makes them “feel better about themselves”. I really struggle with this excuse. If feeling better about yourself, means drawing attention to your body in a impure way, then that ultimately will lead to (I’m pretty sure) not respecting yourself nor having men respect you for anything other than your looks.

  • Poor Sinner

    Thank you for your insight into this pernicious social malady, Father. As Saint John Paul II said, “Pornography is not wrong because it shows too little, but rather because it shows too much.” As Charlie Sheen said (in the context of drug addiction), “I blinked my eyes and cured my brain.” While that is easier said than done (and his claim can be disputed), he makes a good point; sometimes we give grace – not to mention free will – short shrift. If Christ can turn the thief into a saint in an instant by a glance from the Cross, then Christ can transform us in an instant, too. Regardless of the time it takes, Confession, the Eucharist, and the Rosary quell the tide of temptation and fortify the soul in mercy. Jesus remains while every other passing fancy eventually abandons us.

    • SJ Man

      I think the quote from St. JPII is actually the other way around. Pornography shows too little of the person (i.e. their inherent dignity as a child of God) and simply demeans and lowers the human body as just something to be used for pleasure. As a man who has struggled with this addiction most of my adult life, I can attest to the power of this addiction and how it has lasting effects. At times, images from the past still haunt my thoughts.

      • Poor Sinner

        Thank you for the correction! I just edited it. It’s one of those incisive aphorisms that is so paradoxical that it can be difficult to recapitulate. Saint Jerome also relates that the memory of naked dancing girls in Rome haunted him even when he took to the desert for refuge from temptation.

  • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

    I had decided on a hiatus earlier but as a priest I am compelled here to add my support to Fr McCloskey in recognizing this serious dilemma as a major diabolic assault on morality. Access is at our fingertips with technology. The spiritual disease draws men [mostly] into a world of virtual reality in which a person gives full vent to imagination and sensual gratification without the requirement of relating to a real person. As you say parishioners mainly women have said how it has destroyed their marital relationships. Christian spirituality draws us away from our obsession with sensual pleasure to a spiritual life to the degree necessary for our state of life. Sensuality that is sexual is understood as a willful desire for venereal gratification such as lust as different from a man’s normal attraction to a woman. Temptation may occur and resistance is meritorious. What is lost today is the virtue of purity. Our Blessed Mother is the foremost modal of that virtue for men and women. Purity as a gift of the Holy Spirit gives us knowledge of the true beauty of man and woman.

  • CadaveraVeroInnumero

    Our society is comfortable having a conversation about this topic only within the context of addiction; a discussion that, inevitably, gets entangled in wrangling about definitions and the criterion of addiction.

    Was going to include pornography use among the young; but the content and format of “sex education” our school districts compel students to participate in (all the way into the lower grades) has obviated that. We are near reaching the threshold were – as with any fifth grader who can (legally) foist his gender identity on all and sundry – where we may soon be sanctioning a child’s “right” to view pornography. Why not? Viewing such is already a part of sex ed curriculum.

    The recent dust-up over the sex-texting scandal in a Colorado High School seems like an aberration. It being called a scandal doesn’t quite jiving with the sex education these students have been exposed to for years. Where’s the scandal when students have been told they have absolute autonomous rights and control over their sexuality: even worse, they have the absolute moral authority to define sexuality as they see fit. Again, why not? Who are we to judge”, and all that?

    Solution & resolution? For myself, am much interested in seeing how the bishops will break out this resolution into practice beyond working papers and press releases- and contracting out with curriculum providers to print, print, and print.

    My advice regarding Catholic families? Catholic teens (including far too many 11 year-olds) need to hear their fathers make confession of their own wading into this morass, and see them clearing their computer & phone bookmarks of all their go-to porn sites (however disguised). Begin there, where the damage is most insidious and cruel.

    Don’t think Catholic teens know that their Catholic dads are not downloading? Porn use (and I’m not even talking of “addiction”) exhibits telling signs in a man’s voice, his moods and behavior. Their children can detect them – especially sons if they, too, are “into” the same.

    Another suggestion: Now and then the parish pastor should announce on a Sunday that if one has viewed internet porn within the past 24 hours the Eucharist should not be approached.

    Yet, have we reached the point of no return? As we have with old-fashion fornication and homosexuality; with those two states of living-in-sins the Eucharist is too often being received with little thought of confession and repentance.

    (Maybe we should be asking Julia Flyte to pray for us!)

    Regarding pornography, things have gotten to the point where even LifeSite News has, recently, posted an essay on the damage internet porn viewing has had on the Pro-Life Movement – that is, viewing among pro-life men.

    It’s a mess. Our parishes are a mess due to internet porn. Our Catholic family. And more 11 yer-old Catholic boys than we care to admit.

  • Howard Kainz

    I’ll never forget a conference in a major hotel, on the topic of natural law, that I went to during the 1990s. I checked out the TV programs and was assaulted with all kinds of porn stations — no charge. I complained to the management, and they seemed surprised that there was no charge! The next day some others mentioned the assault. I’m not sure whether it was ever corrected. I think “assault” is the best description of what is going on.

  • campus minister

    As a university chaplain, I can attest that pornography is one of the greatest scourges of our society. Like Fr. McCloskey, I have heard many thousands of confessions that include this sin. I have found an interesting pattern. Rather than what many think, the pattern is not normally, “I am tempted by lust, then I look at pornography and then commit another sin of impurity.” Rather, most of the time, it is one of two patterns: “I am bored so I look at pornography to escape my boredom” or “I have anxiety so I look at pornography to escape my anxiety” and then commit another sin of impurity.
    Too often, as Fr. McCloskey writes, it becomes a compulsion or an addiction.
    Another very disturbing trend in confessions is, when working with young people who want to be free from this, I ask, “When did you first encounter this on a regular basis?” Ten years ago the answer was usually 12 or 13. Now it is 7 or 8 years of age.
    I would also add, that I have been blessed to be a part of many a young person’s journey from being enslaved to this and finding true freedom and that many young people who are caught in this have a great desire to be free. Frequent confession and accountability groups are especially helpful.

    • Thank you for this: “‘When did you first encounter this on a regular basis?’ Ten years ago
      the answer was usually 12 or 13. Now it is 7 or 8 years of age.”

      We don’t realize that when a young child is exposed to pornography, it poisons his/her heart and mind. It’s a form of molestation, of child abuse. How many children encounter porn on a parent’s computer or have a parent who provides it and says, “I’d rather you learned about this from me than on the streets.” Exposing a child to pornography has the same result as sexually abusing a child and creates confused adults who have no understanding of what God created sexuality for because they only experience sexuality as molestation of themselves or of another. It’s a huge problem. There are so many children who have been offended and so few priests and therapists who get that many are suffering from the sins committed against them and then passing those sins onto the next generation.

  • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

    We shouldn’t forget the many women and girls including children whose lives are being destroyed by this insult to human nature. For their own gratification and idolatries many young women are drawn to eternal death. We are accessories to that by our participation.
    To elaborate further on what was said sin is in the will. Aquinas says that evil is always a willful deviation of direction to a due end. Insofar as anyone of us is drawn due to our fallen nature [although by nature as created be God we tend toward good] toward deviating from a due good end to an evil end it is not serious unless we give willful consent. Temptation can be meritorious if we turn away. As men living in this world this is bound to occur. All of us priest or layman have a conscientious mandate to offer prayer and if generous sacrifice for the salvation of many.

  • Diane

    I ask again. Is there nothing else but sex in this world that is worth anything. It is so disgusting and unsettling. Teach your children about chastity and that sex is only beautiful between one man and one woman in marriage, opened to life. Our bodies are the Temple of the Holy Spirit and we must respect our bodies and the bodies of others. Children need to be taught this from the age of seven, that is how I was taught in Catholic School. Also modesty is essential. Don’t let your children watch these awful sexy movies or TV programs that promote sex and homosexuality. You may wind up with a normal human being who puts sex in the right place. Priests must preach to the young of the evils of sex outside of marriage, contraception, homosexuality and porn, over and over and over again. This garbage must end if we are to have normal adults. It is ugly and disturbing that people are so animalistic and self absorbed.

    • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

      You’re right Diane. The burden lies with priests. Too many of us are unwilling to upset congregations who often accuse priests who are direct as you recommend of being rigid even too graphic. One woman left with her children because I addressed homosexual behavior simply describing it as sexual relations between two men or two women. Often we are confronted with outrage from pretentious pseudo intellectuals who are really interested in justifying their lack of compliance to the faith. Courage and conviction of our values are most needed today. Unfortunately mealy mouthed pablum is the fare.

      • Diane

        Fr. I say, let them leave. They are the ones who should be ashamed, not the priest who is teaching the words of Jesus. I’ll wager that plenty of people walked out on Jesus when he was preaching. Eventually the Church will be filled with faithful Catholics who appreciate a priest that tells it like it is. Trump is a good example of telling it like it is.

  • John Whaley

    Bishop Loverde of Arlington VA wrote Bought with A Price and updated it in 2014. It is priceless… a must read. Pornography is linked to many sins including human trafficking which most do not approve of despite growing cultural acceptance of porn. Pornography is not a ‘private sin.’

  • bernie

    Thank you Father CJ for a solid commentary. The Bishop’s response to the
    problem must be far more than just another letter. They must, it
    seems to me, marshal Catholic families in a great crusade with a real
    strategy enlisting them, Parish by Parish, one by one. Pornography
    has a history that is nearly as old as mankind. But its triumph, in
    just our own life-times, seems apocalyptic. When the Church, in its
    finitude, decided to end the prayers for “The conversion of
    Russia” at the end of Mass (it seem like a pretty poor idea in
    retrospect, doesn’t it?), I continued the practice of saying the
    three Hail Marys, the Hail Holy Queen and the Prayer to St. Michael,
    but changed the intention to, “For Peace”. Then came the
    Pill, the contraceptive mind and abortion. But even before that was
    the growth of no-fault divorce – perhaps the greatest entre to
    today’s diabolic triumph of ubiquitous pornography. Surely we all
    know the Devil hates human life, and even now as the world’s
    population draws nearer and nearer to a great decline, the Devil has
    managed to add infanticide and euthanasia to the mix in his bag of
    tricks. Many years ago I changed my intention again to, “For
    generous family life”. To maintain our balance in the midst of
    this awful scourge, I now ask my family that they join me in praying
    to our Mother Mary as the “Model Custodian of the Human Heart”.
    So now I ask, why couldn’t every Parish have a “Family Custodial Society”
    that enlists all men by name and family, offering them a chance to
    commit to a plan of action in their families? What a great project
    that might be!

  • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

    Serious sin can also be an interior act of the will. For example a respondent said the pornography site is simply an occasion for sin and the sin is only in self abuse that follows. However if looking at films and pictures a person gives willful consent to sexual gratification particularly venereal it is a formal act of the will that incurs serious sin. Remember Christ said if you so much as look at a woman with lust you have committed adultery with her in your heart.

  • Bucky Inky

    Although pornography is overwhelmingly marketed
    to and viewed by men, a substantial number of women also sample it out
    of curiosity and generally are disgusted by it (although a small number
    fall into the trap of using it themselves).

    This is simply not true. Surely you have heard of the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon? Why does this filth that makes a mockery of masculinity and the nature of man, marketed to and mostly consumed by women on a comparable scale to online pornography by men, not count as “pornography”? And the FSOG phenomenon is only one of the more manifest indications of women’s use of what ought to go by the same name as men’s favored prurient consumable material.

    Online pornography use by men is not to be diminished as a destructive force used against the Christian family; but why is pornography use by women such a blind spot for Christianity in our day? Why is it that, since women don’t sin in the exact same way as men do, we tend to conclude that they don’t need to be addressed?

    How far are we going to get in battling pornography when we routinely ignore such an obvious aspect of it as this?

    • Billiamo

      Father wrote “viewed”. I think he was referring to graphic porn: photos and videos.

      • Bucky Inky

        Yes, I think you are correct. My question is, why limit the discussion to this?

  • Voice

    The GREATEST Threat? Please know I have no disagreement w/ calling out the scourge of Pornography and all the related “ills” it helps produce in our culture and country … However, I question the premise of “greatest”. Greater than war, violence and world poverty? Maybe in America or the developed world, but where the majority of Catholics live, their “take” may be much different than this. How many American Catholics regularly confess failure to sacrificially give to help eliminate poverty? The average giving is 1-2% but my guess that does not even come up in confession… because it’s ignored. I believe there are MANY GREAT threats … not just this one…