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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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Catholic Bishops and Utah State Officials address pornography epidemic

Catholic Bishops and Utah State Officials address pornography epidemic

Last November, the U.S. Catholic Bishops published a pastoral letter on the morality of pornography.

We would expect that from a religious group. What was more surprising is Utah’s Governor and Legislature publically acknowledged that: “Pornography is a public health hazard leading to a broad spectrum of individual and public health impacts and societal harms.”

They further stated that: “Pornography is contributing to the hypersexualization of teens, and even prepubescent children, in our society. Due to advances in technology and the universal availability of the Internet, young children are exposed to what used to be called hard core, but is now considered mainstream pornography at an alarming rate.”

They continue, “The average age of exposure to pornography is now 11 to 12 years of age. This early exposure is leading to low self-esteem and body image disorders, an increase in problematic sexual activity at younger ages, and an increased desire among adolescents to engage in risky sexual behavior.”

The Utah State leaders continue, “Because pornography treats women as objects and commodities for the viewer's use, it teaches girls they are to be used and teaches boys to be users. Pornography normalizes violence and abuse of women and children; pornography treats women and children as objects and often depicts rape and abuse as if they are harmless.”

The Utah authorities stated, “Recent research shows that pornography is potentially biologically addictive, which means the user requires more novelty, often as more shocking material, to be satisfied; this biological addiction leads to increasing themes of risky sexual behaviors, extreme degradation, violence, and child sexual abuse images and child pornography.”

They also state that “pornography use is linked to lessening desire in young men to marry, dissatisfaction in marriage, and infidelity; this link shows that pornography has a detrimental effect on the family unit; and overcoming pornography's harms is beyond the capability of the afflicted individual to address alone.”

In conclusion, “The Legislature and the Governor recognize the need for education, prevention, research, and policy change at the community and societal level to address the pornography epidemic that is harming the people of our state and nation.”

The Catholic Bishops reminded us, “Men and women discover the call to love written in their very bodies. The human person is a unity of soul and body, and the body shares in the dignity of the image of God. The body reveals or expresses the person. It expresses in a visible way one’s invisible soul and manifests one’s masculine or feminine identity.”

“Because of the beautiful meaning and dignity communicated by our bodies, we should treat our bodies with the greatest respect. We, and therefore our bodies, are not meant to be used but loved. St. John Paul II taught the opposite of love is not hate but rather using a person, as if he or she were an object. To love others is to recognize them as the gift they are, to seek what is truly good and best for them, and never to use them and thereby objectify them as something less than persons. The body, then, is not raw, biological matter open to manipulation but is rather inseparable from who we are.”

Chastity may be “an unpopular word,” but as Pope Francis has indicated, love is chaste.

“All of us in life have gone through moments in which this virtue has been very difficult, but it is in fact the way of genuine love, of a love that can give life, which does not seek to use the other for one’s own pleasure.”

Continued next week.