The Bishop of Arlington, Virginia, has taken up the fight against pornography and is urging all citizens and public officials to work for legislation that will create a culture in which the dignity of all human persons is respected.
In a lengthy pastoral letter, entitled “Bought with a Price: Pornography and the Attack on the Living Temple of God”, Bishop Paul Loverde addressed the moral, social, and spiritual dangers of pornography.
The bishop described pornography as a “plague” that “stalks the souls of men, women and children”, ruins marriages and families, “victimizes the most innocent among us” and “destroys people's ability to see one another as unique and beautiful expressions of God's creation.”
“Perhaps worst of all, however, is the damage that pornography does to man's ‘template’ for the supernatural,” he wrote. “Our natural vision in this world is the model for supernatural vision in the next.”
While American culture views pornography as a “mere private weakness or even as a legitimate pleasure to be protected by law”, the Church teaches that it is a grave offense, he stated plainly.
Freedom of speech “is not an absolute right,” he said, and it must “always be at the service of the common good.”
Bishop Loverde remarked on how pornography has become “mainstream entertainment” for the masses, accessible through the Internet, cable, satellite and broadcast television. He noted that it is also available on cell phones and portable gaming and entertainment devices designed for children and teens.
The bishop also addressed the false arguments in defense of pornography, which state that there are no victims in pornography, so no one is being harmed; that pornography can be an aid in maturing, both emotionally and sexually; that the temperate use of pornography can be therapeutic; and, that Christian opposition to pornography comes from a “Christian hatred of the body.”
Pornography, he said, “distorts the truth about human sexuality,” and uses and manipulates people in ways that are “incompatible with their human dignity.”
It also poses challenges to people who are trying to live their Christian vocations in all states of life — married couples, priests and consecrated persons, and single people.
In particular, it poses a challenge to young Christians, who “struggle to live the demands of discipleship” in a culture that has abandoned the virtue of chastity, he said.
“I fear that the full burden of our culture's surrender to pornography will fall on your shoulders, both now and in years to come,” he said to young people. “Not only have you been targeted by this criminal enterprise as a source of financial gain, but you also have to endure the impoverished notion of intimacy that results from a culture that has confused love with self-gratification.
“Know first that God has destined you for a true and fully human love that finds its center not in manipulating others but in sharing and flourishing in a communion with your beloved,” he wrote.
For Bishop Loverde’s full text, please go to: www.arlingtondiocese.org/offices/communications/boughtprice.html