Clear and Helpful Teaching on the Evil of Pornography from Arlington Va. Bishop Paul Loverde

At the opening of Lent, Bishop Paul Loverde has written an important and encouraging pastoral letter on the disturbing and increasingly pervasive issue of  pornography. The full letter was released today and you can read it here Bought With a Price

It is good to see bishops address moral issues with clarity. And Bishop Loverde surely does that here. There are many things I like about the letter but let me highlight a few things here.

1. We live in a culture that makes light of sexual sin in general, and pornography in particular.  Many people speak of it as a victimless crime, etc.  It is not.  Producing and peddling pornography is a grave offense against human dignity and a complete distortion of one of God’s greatest gifts. Bishop Leverde is extremely clear on this point, drawing from both Scripture and the Catechism. He emphasizes very strongly that the peddling and use of pornography is a grave, mortal sin – a sin that severs our relationship with God. It must be repented of. For those who struggle with compulsive or  addictive behaviors, help must be sought. The bishop is clear. Whatever one’s struggles, we must not go on calling good, or no big deal, what God calls gravely sinful.

Jesus says we ought to be more willing to endure serious bodily harm than to intentionally look with lust at another.

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’e But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. (Matt 5:27-30)

The good Bishop also uses other arguments and scriptures to strongly refute arguments that make light of the serious sin of pornography. It is good to read these strong teachings unambiguously articulated. Bravo!

2. While not failing to address all the faithful, he addresses the letter with a special emphasis on men.  He does this not only because men are more prone to access pornography, but also because he summons men to leadership in seeking to protect their families from the great damage of pornography.

This approach comports well with my own pastoral experience. For though men can and do experience temptations to pornography, men also respond well as a general rule to being summoned to battle for what is right. Men do have a protective instinct that can be appealed to. Sadly, many in recent decades, in the wake of feminism, have shamed men for this instinct, or have sought to deny that it exists.

As a pastor and confessor, it is evident to me that the struggle with internet pornography has reached epidemic proportions. Many confessors struggle to know how to counsel those who are contending with compulsive and addictive tendencies. Among the approaches I use is to call these men to battle and to remind them that when they view pornography they are playing on the wrong team and lining Satan’s pockets with money. Even if they don’t actually buy it, each time they click on a site or picture they increase the page ranking for the site. And this increases its revenue.

 To arms! Fight the good fight of faith. Do  not provide recognition or resources for Satan’s evil design. Pornography is clearly a satanic attack on our families, on Matrimony, on women, and on children. It is a great darkness on our land. It must be resisted. Our families must be protected. Yes this is a great battle and the Lord is looking for some good soldiers strong enough to resist the tide. An old gospel song comes to mind: “I’m a Soldier in the Army of the Lord.”

3. Bishop Loverde makes good use of Scripture as well as sociological and natural law arguments. In the past I have read too many statements from the Bishops conference that make little or no reference to Scripture. About ten years ago the conference issued a statement on the problem of cohabitation and did not use a single quote from Scripture. When we have asked certain bishops about this they have indicated that since they are addressing the world, it is important to use sources upon which all agree. But of course the world includes Christians. I realize that using only Scripture may be less effective, but any document from the Bishops ought to quote “The Boss” from time to time!  Bishop Loverde gets the balance right here.

Please take time to read the whole letter. There are many other good aspects in the letter such as a pastoral exhortation to priests, a message for parents, and a helpful study guide.

To arms!

11 Replies to “Clear and Helpful Teaching on the Evil of Pornography from Arlington Va. Bishop Paul Loverde”

  1. Recently, for the first time, I received a request from a woman to correspond with me. Now, she used name which corresponded with a woman that I had come across before on a Catholic site and I was drawn into thinking that she might be that same woman. The one I knew was a faithful Catholic. I agreed to her having contact with me. Contact was made and very quickly indeed it became apparent that this was not the woman I had known in the past and she was actually trying to draw me into pornography. I excused myself and closed down the correspondence and then took steps to ensure that she could never contact me again. I also discovered that she was part of a network which exists to draw men into pornography and which actually has sucked out a fortune for the man behind this enterprise.
    Thanks be to God I escaped but it shook me!

  2. ‘ Dust you are and unto dust shall you return ‘ – those words , may be spoken with tenderness , to Adam , by The Father who already would have been beholding the Holy Face of the New Adam, on the face of Adam as well in each of us too ….

    Having come across the history , esp. in Eastern Churches – Byzantines esp., of the subtle or not even so subtle influence ? even corruption of faith, by pacts with the ruling Islamic authorities, used to have at times a troubling gnat of a thought whether those words had flown into the West too , from influence of the East , carrying with it a sort of curse like aspect !

    May be the Holy Face devotion and readings on family healing have helped to see that , it is more likely that
    Mother Church may be inviting us and even giving us the role, through those words, the grace to repent all the way from Adam, for all who have followed our family lines hence , in union with him and even the very earth he is made from , for that sense of oneness with all , to fill in the empty voids of wanting to feel loved and whole, so that persons , even Churches do not go after unholy camels , from effects of unholy pacts and if have either swallowed them or been swallowed up by them , can be helped out !

    May the powerful prayers of our holy shepherds and each of us too , free us all from effects of curses that have been pronounced over each other for one reason or other or brought in by ourselves / ancestors .

    May the merits and love of the Holy Face be our remedy , as we contemplate HIm, esp. in the desert , wherein as per Bl.Emmerich, the demons used to come tempting HIm, even taking on forms of familiar persons !

    May the Son, often beholding the Face of The Mother and the Mother that of The Son, be our treasure , to free lands and persons from all sorts of enemy turmoils!

    Immaculate Heart of Mary , St.Joseph , pray for us all !

  3. Thank you for writing about this today. I read your post as I began my morning quiet time, in which I wanted to determine my Lenten sacrifices. I realized, forcefully, through the grace of God, that I have to deal with this sin in my own life. I will read the resource, pray for the Holy Spirit’s intervention, and ask for God’s forgiveness through confession.

    One more thing: I work in the law enforcement arena and I can tell you with 100% certainty that the sharp end of the porn industry is the widespread commercial sexual abuse of children. I have seen it first hand. While it in difficult (thankfully) to sexually abuse a child directly, it is very, very easy to direct others to do it for your pleasure through the internet. By that I mean, watch a video of others with children and direct them to perform acts of sexual abuse and torture on those children. These children are poor, isolated, and, for the most part, forgotten. They are the most unfortunate victims of the porn industry.

    1. The Angelic Warfare Confraternity is an apostolate of the Domincans that he been growing in the recent years. You might benefit from it and the daily prayers involved.

      May God bless you with a fruitful and producitve Lenten journey this year.

    2. God bless you, Jamier! I will be praying for you throughout Lent. Think of this letter and Lent as tremendous invitations back home and into His arms 🙂 If you really like it, the diocese is trying to encourage people to rate the book on Amazon if you buy it through that platform ( Please do so if you are! Your above testimony on there would mean wonders for those on the edge about diving into such a work! Wishing you all the best!

  4. Our parish priest asked the parishionners what he and the other priests could do to make the mass more welcoming. I wrote to him that one of the things that I appreciate most in mass is when the priest shows courage in his homily, especially when the teaching has to be tough, to be in line with the gospel.

  5. I’m afraid we are letting women off the hook too easily here. Men are visual, so the obvious problems that you discuss are more alluring to men. Women are verbal creatures, and if you will pick up a random romance novel, you will find that we are being tempted just as much as men. I enjoy reading, but it is quite difficult to find interesting books that do not contain a sexual element. If you read the popular books now, such as the 50 shades of grey or the True blood series, they all clearly revolve around sex. Similarly, it is nearly impossible to download a free book without something that is at least questionable, but many should come with a brown wrapper. While the victim argument may not play well here, it is a temptation to lust and dishonors chastity. It is also more pernicious because it is hidden. No one is pointing out to women that reading this kind of book is akin to men viewing porn. Perhaps it is not as addcitive, but it still damages relationships.

    1. Immerse yourself in Scripture and prayer, keep your eyes from evil, keep your eyes from every pretense of evil, keep your eyes from all the avenues of evil, persevere and you will be healed, your mind will be healed… “His place of defense will be the fortress of rocks…”

      Isa 33:15-16
      Who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed , And shuts his eyes from seeing evil: He will dwell on high; His place of defense will be the fortress of rocks; Bread will be given him, His water will be sure.

      Matthew 6:22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light; 23 but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

    2. Excellent point. Sexually charged romance novels have been correctly described as porn for women.

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