Bought With A Price
Pornography and the Attack on the Living Temple of god

I. Introduction: "The life of man is the vision of God" (Saint Irenaeus)

In my forty years as a priest, I have seen the evil of pornography spread like a plague throughout our culture. What was once the shameful and occasional vice of the few has become the mainstream entertainment for the many - through the Internet, cable, satellite and broadcast television, cell phones and even portable gaming and entertainment devices designed for children and teenagers. Never before have so many Americans been so tempted to view pornography. Never before have the accountability structures - to say nothing of the defenses which every society must build to defend the precious gift of her children - been so weak.

This plague stalks the souls of men, women and children, ravages the bonds of marriage and victimizes the most innocent among us. It obscures and destroys people's ability to see one another as unique and beautiful expressions of God's creation, instead darkening their vision, causing them to view others as objects to be used and manipulated. It has been excused as an outlet for free expression, supported as a business venture, and condoned as just another form of entertainment. It is not widely recognized as a threat to life and happiness. It is not often treated as a destructive addiction. It changes the way men and women treat one another in sometimes dramatic but often subtle ways. And it is not going away.

I know of this plague from my brother priests who routinely confront it in the confessional; from counselors who treat it through our various Catholic social service agencies; from Catholic school teachers, youth ministers, and religious education teachers who confront its effects in the lives of our youth; from parents who speak of the challenge of raising children with modesty in our culture; and from my involvement in the Religious Alliance Against Pornography, an interfaith coalition of religious leaders.

Yet this plague extends far beyond the boundaries of church or school. The victims of this plague are countless. Today perhaps more so than at any time previously, man finds his gift of sight and therefore his vision of God distorted by the evil of pornography. As part of my responsibility to lead all the people in the Diocese of Arlington to the vision of God, I find it necessary now to address the tremendous moral, social, and spiritual dangers of pornography. In so doing, I ask Catholics and non - Catholics alike to pause and join my reflections in this pastoral letter which will: 1) examine the nature of the current threat; 2) address the arguments put forward by those who attempt to rationalize pornography and provide "cover" for pornographers; 3) offer concrete counsel - to all Christians, young people, couples, and priests - on how to guard against pornography and to free oneself from its slavery and seek God's forgiveness; and finally, 4) reflect on the gift of sight and its fulfillment in divine contemplation.

Next Page: II. The Nature of the Current Threat
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