SALT LAKE CITY — The Catholic Church views pornography as immoral, and its effects as wide-reaching. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “Pornography consists in removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties. It offends against chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other. It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others. It immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world. It is a grave offense. Civil authorities should prevent the production and distribution of pornographic materials.” (CCC 2354)
In 1992, Pope John Paul II acknowledged many of the negative effects of pornography in his address to the members of the Religious Alliance Against Pornography, saying in part, “Pornography is immoral and ultimately anti-social precisely because it is opposed to the truth about the human person, made in the image and likeness of God. By its very nature, pornography denies the genuine meaning of human sexuality as a God-given gift intended to open individuals to love and to sharing in the creative work of God through responsible procreation. By reducing the body to an instrument for the gratification of the senses, pornography frustrates authentic moral growth and undermines the development of mature and healthy relationships. It leads inexorably to the exploitation of individuals, especially those who are most vulnerable, as is so tragically evident in the case of child pornography.”
Pornography also attacks the sanctity of marriage, the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops state in their article “Pornography Harms Everyone,” explaining that “pornography promotes harmful and destructive anthropology (view of the human person). It teaches people to use others as ‘objects’ – in this case, a means of selfish, lustful gratification. In addition, since pornography attacks sexual desire and the conjugal act itself, it wages war on marriage.”
The deleterious effect of pornography on marriage also was addressed in the USCCB’s 2009 pastoral letter “Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan.” The letter states in part that “Pornography, particularly Internet pornography, is a serious threat to marital chastity and is gravely immoral. … Using pornography can quickly become an addiction that erodes trust and intimacy between husband and wife and, in some cases, leads to the breakup of the common life of the spouses.”
This idea is carried further by Bishop Paul S. Loverde of the Diocese of Arlington (now retired) in his 2014 pastoral letter “Bought with a Price.” He writes that with pornography, “Rather than being the expression of a married couple’s intimate union of life and love, sex is reduced to a demeaning source of entertainment and even profit for others. Pornography violates chastity also because it introduces impure thoughts into the viewer’s mind and often leads to unchaste acts, such as masturbation or adultery.”
For National Anti-Pornography Awareness Week, which this year is Oct. 31-Nov. 6, there are several resources available to help address this problem.
Bishop Loverde’s letter includes a chapter titled “Four False Arguments,” in which he responds to statements such as “There are no victims, so no one is being harmed,” with counter-arguments such as, “Pornography leads users into a fantasy world that isolates them and cripples their ability to experience true human intimacy. Every instance of it contributes to the dehumanization of many.”
At the conclusion of that chapter, Bishop Loverde writes, “The Church affirms the sacredness of the body and of human sexuality. This is the reason for her firm opposition to pornography, which denigrates the body even as it reveals it in ever more graphic ways.”
His letter also includes a chapter titled “What Can Be Done,” as well as a study guide intended to help people who want to address this issue, and suggested practices to help combat the use of pornography.
Another helpful document is the USCCB’s Create in me a Clean Heart: A Pastoral Response to Pornography, published in 2015, which is intended to “contribute to the many good efforts already underway to help men, women, and young people to avoid the sin of pornography and to embrace the freedom and purity of life in Christ,” as the introduction states.
Additional resources to combat pornography are available on the USCCB website at https://www.usccb.org/topics/marriage-and-family-life-ministries/pornography. These resources, in English and Spanish, include pamphlets, video talks by experts, Bishop Loverde’s pastoral letter, an exhortation for Catholic men by Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix, and a short reflection by the USCCB Pro-Life Secretariat on Christian love and why pornography should be rejected.
The USCCB’s For Your Marriage website also has several links to resources on where to find help for those struggling with the use of pornography, visit https://www.foryourmarriage.org/pornography/
In 2018, the internet site Pornhub had 30.3 billion searches, or 962 searches per second.
Twelve new videos and two hours of content were uploaded to Pornhub every minute.
Every second, 28,258 users are watching pornography on the internet.
Every second, $3,075.64 is being spent on pornography on the internet.
40 million American people regularly visit porn sites.
Sources: Enough.org, citing the PornHub Website 2019; and Webroot.com