A widespread and pernicious though often overlooked evil affecting modern life is pornography.
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.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2354
Pornography is a grave offense against God and His gifts to men and women. God created men and women "in His image" to share in His divine life. Rather than respecting and cherishing this image of God, 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. It is important to remember what God created for husbands and wives. As St. John Paul II explains:
In the conjugal act, husband and wife are called to confirm in a responsible way the mutual gift of self which they have made to each other in the marriage covenant...the mutual gift of husband and wife...is in itself a mutual communion of love and of life. The intimate truth of this gift must always be safeguarded.... The person can never be considered a means to an end; above all never a means of pleasure. The person is and must be nothing other than the end of every act. Only then does the action correspond to the true dignity of the person. (Letter to Families,12)
In order to better understand the destructiveness of pornography and how to combat it, please listen to the talks provided below. They were given at the 2013 National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers (NACFLM) Conference. Each presenter, an expert in his/her field, explains the harm of pornography to the individual person, to their families, and to society.
Patrick Trueman, President, and CEO of Morality in the Media
"The Pornography Pandemic: A Message to Catholics"
Part One, Part Two
Bruce and Jeanne Hanneman, Founders of Elizabeth Ministry International
"Reclaim Sexual Health - Combining Science and Spirituality to Overcome Pornography"
Part One, Part Two
Peter C. Klaponis, Ph.D., LPC, NCC
"Fighting Porn in Our Culture...and Winning!"
Part One, Part Two
Note: The audio files above are posted with the permission of Catholic Seminars. If you would like to purchase these files and view other topics available from the 2013 NACFLM conference, see: www.catholicseminars.com.
What does the Catholic Church Teach about pornography?
To learn what the Church teaches about pornography see the Catechism of the Catholic Church, sections 2396, 2354, and 2523.
Please also read the U.S. bishops pastoral letter Create in Me a Clean Heart. This document articulates Church teaching on the person and the nature of human sexuality as designed by God. It also discussed the harms of pornography use both to the person and society.
Bought with a Price, Most Rev. Paul S. Loverde, Diocese of Arlington
A pastoral letter about the love of Christ and the harm of pornography.
Into the Breach, Most Rev. Thomas J. Olmstead, Diocese of Phoenix
This exhortation is for Catholic men. Bishop Olmstead reflects upon what it means to be a Catholic man, how to love rightly, and why fatherhood is important.
Life Matters: Pornography and Our Call to Love, USCCB Pro-Life Secretariat
A short reflection on Christian love and why pornography should be rejected.
People Seeking Help
Visit the USCCB's ForYourMarriage.org website that has many resources for
People struggling with pornography addition
Parents who want to help their children avoid pornography
Leaders who need to establish anti-pornography ministry in their parishes and dioceses
Return to NFP Resources