Loverde’s pastoral letter on porn

Loverde’s pastoral letter on porn

Here’s a topic you don’t often hear Catholic priests and bishops and lay leaders discussing even though everyone acknowledges it’s a huge problem (just look at your spam folder in your email program). Bishop Paul Loverde of Arlington, Virginia, has written a pastoral letter on pornography called “Bought With a Price: Pornography and the Attack on the Living Temple of God.” I haven’t had a chance to read the whole thing yet, but I’m glad to see it being made available.

One of the common factors in much of the Scandal was the prevalence of pornography, especially homosexual and child porn, among the pervert priests molesting kids. But it’s not just molesters for whom it is a danger. Loverde addresses sections of his letter to young people, to married couples, and to priests, giving them each advice related to their state in life.

I shudder to think of the world that our children will grow up in. Even if none of our kids is exposed to it, the reality is that nearly every other kid will be. And it’s not like the stuff I saw when I was a kid. When I was a teen, usually one of the guys would sometimes smuggle one of his dad’s magazines out of the house, and bad enough as they were—and I’m not minimizing how bad they were—at least they were just photos of naked women. Now, the perversion available at the click of the mouse is astounding. Just the simple act of perusing the subject lines of email in my spam box has given me much more education in sexual perversity and degradation than I’d ever want.

This is one reason why no child should have his own email account and when they’re old to have one, it should be closely monitored by mom and dad with very strong spam filtering software on it. Obviously, they should never have a computer in their own room and all Internet activity should be in public areas of the house.

Many of our society’s ills can be traced to pornography, porn addiction, and the deleterious effects it has especially on husbands or potential husbands whose ability to form intimate and fulfilling relationships becomes impaired or for priests whose biological desires once inflamed are thwarted and can become perverted.

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  • This pastoral letter is well worth reading. I wish the USCCB meeting last month had produced such a document. The clergy should be addressing the problem of pornography from the pulpit, but they are silent. Our children do not have a hope of sustaining a marriage and living a moral life if they become addicted to this filth.

  • I agree although I sympathize with many priests. How do you talk about pornography when you have many children present? A priest does not have the right to violate the innocence of children and a homily on porn is almost certainly required to do so to be effective.

  • “A priest does not have the right to violate the innocence of children”

    I guess I have to disagree that condemning porn somehow violates children’s innocence. Also, that innocence is going to be *truly* violated by our raunchy culture at some point early on, so why shouldn’t the Truth preempt that?

    I like that this document (which I have to admit, I have only skimmed through thus far) seems to be very comprehensive. It didn’t just repeat the old chestnut of porn “addiction,” an idea that I’m still not 100% sold on, to be honest. Putting porn constantly in the context of addiction, even if it is a real phenomenon, just kind of misses the point. Porn is intrinsically evil, whether the viewer is addicted to it or not.

    I liked that it spoke of the evil of exploiting the vulnerable and that the decision to enter into the sex industry cannot be seen as a choice freely made. I really hope that Catholics at some point catch up to the Pentecostals/evangelicals, who for several years now have been doing outreaches and transitional programs that help women exit the sex industry. I support these programs, but would do so even more enthusiastically if the women being converted were headed to a Catholic church instead of a nondenominational Christian one (as much respect as I have for Pentecostals/evangelicals).

  • Joanne: The Church has clearly taught in several places—“Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality”, Familiaris Consortio, among others—that (a) children should not be exposed talk that strips them of their innocence and (b) that parents have the right to decide the appropriate time to discuss such things with their kids, no one else, including bishops or priests.

    I will agree that a priest could discuss chastity and custody of the eyes during a homily without getting explicit, but to discuss pornography forthrightly in a homily would violate the innocence of every 5-year-old child in the congregation and would be especially bad if done without any sort of warning.

    Kids will be exposed to all sorts of bad things in their lives, but we don’t sit them down as children and force feed it to them now.

    We both agree that porn is evil. My point is that so many people want to load every instance of teaching and formation on the Mass and especially the homily as if that alone should be the extent of contact between priest and people. It is not and should not be.

  • I thought Bishop Loverde’s letter was masterful.  I feel like getting it in pamphlet form somehow and putting it in the parish literature rack, on a high shelf of course.  How might I get a convenient printed edition?

    I worry we want priests to do the heavy lifting, when this might be an area for strong lay witness and involvement.  Priests can be easily ignored, especially by porn users being seduced away from the church.  But their friends and family might be more effective witnesses.

    If we could just revive a tenth of what the (lay-run?)Legion of Decency could do in the old days in terms of strengthening chastity and cleaning up the sewers, we’d be much better off.

    Also, the Diocese of Colorado Springs’ paper recently focused on pron and s*x addiction:

    I think it not as great as the bishop’s letter, with too much of the therapeutic mentality, but it’s still a pretty good start.

  • Yes, discuss Catholic sexual ethics with “your” child because only you understand the dangers faced by your child and only you know their moral development and at what time they are ready for such things.

    I note that none of the pro-homily responders has addressed the provisions of the Church’s teaching that says such things are not to be done.

  • “I note that none of the pro-homily responders has addressed the provisions of the Church’s teaching that says such things are not to be done.”

    I was unaware that such guidelines even existed to be honest, but I also find them pretty vague, at least as they are put forth here. Are issues like abortion and same sex marriage never to be mentioned in homilies? I would think that even some of the gospel readings must contain themes that don’t meet those standards.

    As a teenager, babysitting for lots of different families, I was often stunned by the inappropriateness of some of the tv shows or movies that parents would let their kids watch. I am the last person who would advocate “force-feeding” children – or adults – anything explicit. But it seems like the alternative is for kids to be kept in the dark about the existence of porn til a peer or the internet or the media introduces it to them.

    As mentioned above, initiatives other than the homily, such as letters like Bishop Loverde’s, are heartening. But again, if you’re “anti-homily,” do you want letters of this nature not being discussed in the presence of children? Should the text of such letters not be put in bulletin, out of fear that kids’ innocence might be violated?

    BTW, I wouldn’t label myself “pro-homily” on the topic of porn. I have become sort of indifferent as to what priests speak on at Mass quite honestly. But by the same token, I wouldn’t be “anti-homily” on the topic either.

  • That’s my point. If a homily is to be given on pornography, then it must be done in such a way as to not be explicit and not scandalize and assault the innocence of children—or even adults who are themselves innocent of knowledge of same.