In the document, the bishops reiterate the Church’s teaching about pornography which many may know (the Church views pornography and its use as a mortal sin) but don’t know why the Church teaches this.
The use of pornography:
- has the potential to diminish the user’s capacity for healthy human intimacy and relationships;
- can become addictive, causing its user to seek increasingly coarse, violent, and degrading content;
- can lead to interest in the satanic with overt portrayals of occult practices; and,
- correlates with other sins, including adultery, masturbation, domestic violence, the abuse of children in child pornography, and sex trafficking.
So, in a nutshell, the Church teaches: All pornography and its use involves a disordered view of the person, regarding another person as a “thing” to be used for one’s gratification rather than a “human being” to be loved.
Pornography and this vicious cycle is nothing new. St. Augustine wrote about it 1600+ years back in Book X of The Confessions. Tracing the power of memory and the images it contains, he writes:
Yet in my memory, of which I have spoken at length, sexual images survive, because they were imprinted there by former habit. While I am awake they suggest themselves feebly enough, but in dreams with power to arouse me not only to pleasurable sensations but even to consent, to something closely akin to the act they represent. So strongly does the illusory image in my mind affect my body that these unreal figments influence me in sleep in a way that the reality could never do while I am awake. (X:10:41b)
What shall I do, then, O my God, my true life. I will pass beyond this faculty of mine called memory, I will pass beyond it and continue resolutely toward you, O lovely Light. What are you saying to me? See, I am climbing through my mind to you who abide high above me; I will pass beyond even this faculty of mine which is called memory in my longing to touch you from the side when you can be touched, and cleave to you in the way in which holding fast to you is possible...I will therefore pass beyond memory and try to touch him who has marked me out from the four-footed beasts and made me wiser than the birds in the sky; yes, I will pass beyond even my memory that I may find you...where? (X:26b)
If you fall, get up again, go to the Lord in confession and seek his mercy in the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, and start anew.
Jesus is the way of freedom. The Church says, “Be not afraid!” Come to the Lord Jesus, whose mercy endures forever! The Lord never tires of forgiving.
Finally, the bishops address spouses who suffer because their spouse uses pornography. They also address parents, reminding them of their divine obligation to educate their children in sexuality, love, and chastity as well as to remain ever vigilant about technology and its use in the home.
For Catholics, in general, and for Catholic males, in particular, this statement is a “must read.”
Let the discussion begin…
To read the bishops’ statement, click on the following link: