This is what the US Bishops said.
WASHINGTON (CNS) – The U.S. bishops approved a statement on pornography on the second day of their Nov. 16-19 fall general meeting in Baltimore.
“Producing or using pornography is gravely wrong. It is a mortal sin if it is committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent. Unintentional ignorance and factors that compromise the voluntary and free character of the act can diminish a person’s moral culpability,” says the approved version of “Create in Me a Clean Heart: A Pastoral Response to Pornography.”
The bishops passed the document Nov. 17 in a 230 to 4 vote, with one abstention. It needed 181 votes to pass.
“This sin needs the Lord’s forgiveness and should be confessed within the sacrament of penance and reconciliation,” it says.
“Those who produce and distribute pornography harm the common good by encouraging and even causing others to sin,” it says.
The statement, prepared by the bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, adds: “There are many victims of pornography. Every person portrayed in it is beloved by God our father and is someone’s daughter or son. All child pornography is automatically trafficking and a crime, because it involves the sexual exploitation of a minor for commercial gain and it is against the child’s will due to the inability to give consent.”
It noted, “Many people struggle with pornography use, including faithful Catholics, people of faith, people of no faith, married and single people, fathers and mothers, the young and the old, clergy and those in consecrated life.”
In presenting the document to the bishops Nov. 16, the first day of their annual fall general meeting in Baltimore, Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, New York, chairman of the committee that prepared it, described pornography as a “dark shadow in our world today.”
He said that it is a “particularly sinister instance of consumption” whereby men, women and children “are consumed for the pleasure of others.”
Bishop Malone noted that the statement, which has been in the works for three years, is “purposely comprehensive” but can by no means address the entire issue. Instead, he said, it should be seen as more of a “launch pad” promoting further discussion and resources to help those harmed by pornography.
He said Pope Francis has urged the U.S. bishops to seek out and heal wounds and the pornography document provides a means to do that. /…/
“In the confessional and in our daily ministry, we have seen the corrosive damaged caused by pornography: children whose innocence is stolen; men and women who feel great guilt and shame for viewing pornography occasionally or habitually; spouses who feel betrayed and traumatized; and men, women and children exploited by the pornography industry.”
It notes pornography has “always been a problem” but over the years its impact has grown “exponentially.”
The statement borrows from the Catechism of the Catholic Church to define it: “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 … It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants.”’
“It encompasses what is sometimes distinguished as ‘soft’- and ‘hard-core’ pornography,” the statement adds. “This is an artificial divide; all pornography is harmful and wrong, while the effects on a person may vary on the intensity of the content. Pornography is not art.”
It says, “Pornography can never be justified and it is always wrong.” /…/
The statement calls pornography “an industry of sin.” “Pornography is a big business. Estimates of revenue stretch easily into the billions of dollars every year. The pornography industry is aggressive, savvy and regulated only sporadically,” it said. “Other business, such as hotel chains, cable companies and drugstores, profit greatly from the widespread use of pornography and contribute to its accessibility.” /…/
It tells men and women who use pornography to “ask for forgiveness. Many good people struggle with this sin. You are not alone; there is always hope! … Freedom from pornography is a daily choice and calls for ongoing formation.”
The statement advises those harmed by their spouse’s pornography use to “seek solace in prayer, in receiving the sacraments, and in eucharistic adoration.” While “anger at your spouse is natural and often justified,” it makes a suggestion to “set clear boundaries if possible, such as installing an online monitoring program, clearing the home of any pornography, taking care of your own health, and refusing to be used as an excuse for your spouse’s pornography use.”
The full text of the approved statement can be found at tinyurl.com/nn2vrhu. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website has various resources at this link tinyurl.com/q8pxhwd, including a list of support groups for those battling an addiction to pornography, educational resources about its harmful effects and guidance for families and whose who work with children to protect youngsters from pornography.