A bishop’s pastoral letter on Pornography

The other day a priest acquaintance sent me a note about the new Pastoral Letter from Bp. Loverde of the Diocese of Arlington concerning Pornography, “Bought With A Price: Every Man’s Duty to Protect Himself and
His Family from a Pornographic Culture”

Pornography is not just increasing in our world, it is increasing in its volume, invasive character, and depravity. This is a huge spiritual problem that can destroy lives, not just of those who participate in it immediately, but in those who are near to the one’s being drawn into it. It is seriously addictive and destructive. Any confessor will confirm that sins concerning pornography are common now with a frightening prevalence.

I am glad that a bishop addressed this problem.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, One Man & One Woman, Our Catholic Identity, The Coming Storm, The Drill, The future and our choices and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. cheezwiz says:

    Actually, Bishop Loverde wrote that letter in 2006, so he was way ahead on this problem. It has just been updated and re-released. I think he should get a lot of credit for issuing a warning about this long before it was commonplace to hand a smartphone to every 8 year old!

  2. Mike says:

    Bishop Loverde’s counsel is well worth reading and acting upon. He and all his faithful clergy continually bless their diocese, particularly those who benefit from their support of the Courage apostolate without which I and myriads of fallen and struggling Christians would be at our wits’ end. Please pray for long life and health for them, and for the extension of their spirit of mercy and of service to the truth to the surrounding dioceses and throughout our broken nation, Church, and world.

  3. Filumene says:

    Can’t wait to read it. Does the heart so much good to hear about a bishop acting with courage. The porn industry in the USA brings in more money than the NFL, Baseball, and NBA combined. It’s America’s number one export.

    I learned in a homily that before making a “movie”, they (moviemakers/actors) perform Satatnic rites over their endeavor. Those who willingly watch , come under the dominion of particular spirits.

    What a time we live in.

  4. jfk03 says:

    Pornography is a terrible scourge, infecting even church-going Catholics. It is the work of the Evil One. Only the Lord has the power to cleanse this moral leprosy. We must fast and pray for the gift of tears.

  5. Priam1184 says:

    This stuff is as bad as heroin, and actually probably a lot worse because it cuts so deep into the human body and psyche and, unlike heroin or meth, it is very rare to find anyone in the world who is likely to do a whole lot to help you: they will tell you that it is just normal and that is what you were designed for. I greatly commend Bishop Loverde. If a way could be found to get more people to just say no (apologies to Nancy Reagan but with this one that is what it comes down to) to this evil then I think that a lot of grace would start flowing into our troubled world. Praying the Rosary for these ones would be a great help if anybody is looking for a prayer intention, the Mother of God will not let us down.

  6. acardnal says:

    Forty, fifty years ago one had to make a real effort to access pornography. You either subscribed to magazines or got into a car and drove to the seedy part of town to visit a porn store. Adults only allowed in these stores.

    Now, it’s pervasive and easily accessible to anyone, every where, any time – even a child – who has a cell phone, tablet, or a laptop. It is a grave evil and addictive. And like any addictive behavior it controls your life and takes away one’s freedom. Interestingly, I think many TV shows and mainstream movies are also soft core pornography which create lustful thoughts in viewers. Many consumers are aware of this and watch them anyway. Beware! Judgement is coming (cf Mt 5:27-28). Satan loves porn.

    Bp. Loverde was right and should be commended for addressing this very common problem and sin.

    One Catholic author has written a recent book about this, Matt Fradd:
    “Delivered – True Stories of Men and Women Who Turned from Porn to Purity”

  7. abasham says:

    That’s why we love our bishop here in Arlington. He has always put a lot of emphasis on this issue. This letter is actually a few years old, but the diocese re-released it and a lot of people are noticing it now who didn’t before, which is great. I remember when I was confirmed he spoke very strongly about the evil of pornography. It was a number of years ago and I couldn’t tell you much else he said, but I vividly remember that.

    He’s a good bishop. He’ll be saying mass for us later today at the Men’s Conference, where I just got out of a great speech given by Justice Scalia on St. Thomas More.

  8. The Masked Chicken says:

    As far as pornography on the Internet is concerned, while it has become a multi-billion dollar industry, its origins indicate that it is embedded in the very nature of the Internet, itself. Porn first started on text-based bulletin boards, often among students and academics (the only people outside of the military who had Internet access). The idea of the Internet being the Wild, Wild, West of intellectual expression, a place of free and unrestricted thought, coupled with the atheism of many of the early users, made posting pornography as bit files nearly inevitable. There is no way to clean it up, completely, short of rigorous monitoring and many people would argue (I am not one if them) that this would violate free speech laws. The best that can be hoped for is to ghetto pornographic sites by giving them their own HTML extension, however, I am open to better solutions. I, once, was downloading some software for some work I was thinking of doing and when I next opened my browser, I was greeted with smut. At college, things got so bad in the student science computer lab, that the IT people would have to wipe the system every week because some inconsiderate and immorally-oriented student, usually at night, visited a porn site and accidentally downloaded a pornbot. We ended up restricting the lab and, ultimately, closing it except for classes.

    Very simply, one of the major contributors to the rise of pornography is the contraceptive mentality. While Bishop Lovede’s letter is very necessary, until contraception is seen for the evil it is, pornography will continue as one more adjunct to it. Pope Paul VI’s, Humane Vite, hit the nail on the head, saying that contraception would lead to depersonalizations of human relations.

    Good luck trying to find, “counseling,” that does not recognize contraception as a right. While I agree that spiritual direction is important, advances in the psychology of addiction are not nearly where they need to be in order to give wise guidance by mental health professionals. There may be ancillary conditions feeding into the pornographic addiction that they might be competent to address, but pornography as an addiction, purely, is not completely treatable by current methodology, or else compulsive gamblers, alcoholics, and obsessive-compulsive people would be cured. In a mere material sense, addictions must be fought with prudence and vigilance, for there is no cure, only facing the temptations in the stark reality of what they are, day by day. I am not a fan of 12-step programs, but the background idea of vigilance is sound, as it is against any vice. Spiritually, however, there is much that can be done for the addicted and the first and best thing is frequent confession. Confession is a spring of mercy and the rule is that the thirstier the man the closer he should stay to the river. Good habits can be addicting, too :)

    It is a bad problem and I see the results in the classroom and on campus, day after day. Courtesy, which is a precursor to modesty, has all but been lost among the young. Idiotic junior high and high school counselors, even the Christian ones, have to fear for their jobs so much that they can do little except be puppets for the liberal agenda. Women have all but forgotten the true nature of what it means to be feminine. We could clean all of this up, but not without sending a lot of grown-ups to bed without their supper for being so gullible, so stupidly unthinking, and so willing to be selfish.

    The Chicken

  9. Siculum says:

    @abasham: The Arlington Catholic Herald, which I receive every two weeks, continues to be, on the whole, a very excellent paper that, to my pleasant surprise, does not shy away from the central issues of our day. I cite it often.

    The only thing I wish Bishop Loverde hadn’t done was allow altar girls. Prior to that time, the Arlington Diocese and Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz’s Lincoln, NE, diocese were the only ones that hadn’t let them in. Now I think Lincoln is the only one left, under Bp. Conley now. Bishop Loverde did, however, let priests choose whether they wanted to have altar girls or not. I remember Fr. Marcus Pollard, founding pastor of the then-new St. Veronica’s in Chantilly, wrote an excellent legal-size pamplet, double sided, and cited studies on why he didn’t think altar girls were such a good idea. Someone else out there in cyberspace transcribed it and published it online. http://www.victorclaveau.com/htm_html/Liturgy/maintaining_the_tradition_of_alt.htm

    In another nearby parish, however, they had 300 altar boys prior to the bishop’s decision. They were all on a strict rotating schedule, with three serving at each Mass, and two on the weekday Masses. They had a great training program for them as well. When the priest(s) of this other parish allowed altar girls, the entire altar serving program completely fell apart. I guess the boys didn’t want to serve with girls. Now they struggle to find anyone to serve at the Masses.

    Sometimes, I think, our bishops, who are human, feel pressured by those around them into making decisions which turn out to be less-than-beneficial in the long run.

    To his credit, however, Bishop Loverde was allowing the Extraordinary Form in his diocese well before Summorum Pontificum, memorably at St. Catherine of Siena in Great Falls. There is an awful lot of good orthodox stuff going on in the Arlington Diocese in other ways as well, although you’re just lucky ’cause you’re in an ever-growing (and expensive) area of the country. :)

    I hope they don’t move PVI, though. They just need to build another clone of JP the Great, and get more Nashville/Ann Arbor Dominicans in there with the bioethics curriculum. Call it Benedict XVI High School! In the meantime, bus the kids out to Dumfries from the kids’ home parishes if possible.

    The end.

  10. Siculum says:

    I wish I could’ve made it to that speech by Tony Scalia. Arlington Dio. also has his son, Fr. Paul Scalia, a very good and courageous priest.

  11. Rachel K says:

    This is an excellent letter from BP Loverde. I was aware of the original one, published in 2006, because I was searching the net for some good Catholic teaching on this subject and this was the best I found.
    Please, forget nit-picking about altar girls and please pray for families to be delivered of this scourge. It is one of Satan’s best tools for destroying marriages and families. The good bishop is correct to give it so much emphasis and we should heed his words and act on them.

  12. Mike says:

    Whenever I get to go to a TLM, it’s in this diocese: St. John the Beloved, in McLean. Their noon High Mass is simply a transforming liturgy done with great devotion, Faith, and talent–the schola is excellent.

    Thank you, Bishop Loverde, for this and all you do!

  13. teomatteo says:

    I rarely sit near the back of church but one sunday i did and during the homily the priest was talking along and kinda unexpectantly mentioned ‘pornography’. I am telling you i saw almost every man flinch. And yes. you know the answer to your question.

  14. mburn16 says:

    Looks like the first miracle has cleared the medical hurdle on Archbishop Sheen’s cause:



    “the 7-member board of medical experts who advise the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints at the Vatican unanimously approved a reported miracle attributed to the intercession of the Venerable Servant of God Archbishop Fulton Sheen.

    The case involved a still born baby born in September 2010. For over an hour the child demonstrated no signs of life as medical professionals attempted every possible life saving procedure, while the child’s parents and loved ones began immediately to seek the intercession of Fulton Sheen. After 61 minutes the baby was restored to full life and made a full recovery. The child, now three years old, continues in good health.”

  15. acardnal says:

    I lived in the Arlington Diocese for 24 years. Loved it and its well-formed priests . . . many of whom are young! And the diocese has several parishes offering the EF/TLM every Sunday – and by diocesan priests, too!

    I was a member of St Catherine of Siena in Great Falls for many years until the parish of Our Lady of Hope was created. I do not recall there ever being a EF/TLM celebrated there, although both Fr. Fasano and his successor did celebrate the OF in Latin with beautiful choral accompaniment.

    Diocese of Arlington is very blessed. I miss it and its orthodox priests.

  16. NoTambourines says:

    A few years ago, financial necessity caused me to dump cable tv. For a long time, I could not get over-the-air TV, either, and fell out of the habit of watching much TV. That turned out to be a blessing in disguise. When I watch now, I’m horrified at the amount of “soft porn” (a misnomer) that pervades advertising, and even “news.” Celebrity gossip — already a waste of time — unreservedly concerns itself with porn stars, and of course, sex-tape celebrities, but even CNN frequently runs some fluffy story about porn: there’s one today, about a Duke student finding being a porn star “freeing.”

    The mainstreaming of the mentality, attitudes, and twisted aesthetics of porn is all around us even without seeking it out. Even kid stuff — usually aimed at girls — reflect it. Look what they’ve done to Strawberry Shortcake and other long-standing children’s characters. The message is that you’re never to young to have to look “hot”… and that is so creepy.

    The disconnection of sex and procreation in our culture is part and parcel of these problems; we have a society that seems to expect little girls to look like women and women to look like little girls. Also creepy. And we’re seeing the repercussions all around us.

  17. New Sister says:

    Abp Loverde gives the same homily at each Confirmation, exhorting the youth to avoid pornography, amongst other evils. He may have allowed altar girls, but it is still the exception rather than the rule here. Most parishes (at least in the metro area) are boys-only. ~ 1 in 5 parishes offers the EF/TLM. Many, many orthodox, masculine, reverent priests — superb confessors. Lord, thank you.

  18. New Sister says:

    @ acardnal – I am sorry you had to move away from this haven. I fear doing so, for the sake of my soul, though places elsewhere in our country need us who were nourished by Arlington, as missionaries. God bless,

  19. Monica says:

    Good to hear that Bishop Loverde will include this topic in Confirmation Mass homilies. My oldest son will be 13 when he’s confirmed this December, God willing.
    We are truly blessed here in the Arlington diocese; all the good things said here about our priests are true. Whenever I travel and must attend Mass elsewhere, it’s just…unbelievable…

  20. Siculum says:

    @New Sister: That so? Bishop Loverde confirmed me, but I can’t remember the homily, unfortunately. Too long ago. That’s good of him. I don’t know if it was true or not, but I recently read of a young nun in some Catholic school somewhere who found a male student’s cell phone that had a pornographic picture of a young woman as its wallpaper. She changed it to a picture of Our Lady and put the phone back where she found it. The student later rediscovered his phone, and was rather surprised, to put it mildly.

    I also remember Bishop Eichard Malone of Buffalo also promising to begin to address this sad and very harmful sin at the last USCCB meeting, and Fr. Z covered that as well.

    I admit, it was off-topic to bring up the altar girls. It’s not a huge deal to me given everything else befalling the Church and world today, but it still does play a role. I’m glad to hear that other parishes in the metro area are responding as they see fit.

    I hear from seminarian friends in Arlington that all around the diocese, there are orthodox parishes filling up with steadfast priests and young people and families on fire with their Faith and highly engaged in the issues of the day.

  21. RJ Sciurus says:

    Ironically, one of Bishop Finn’s first initiatives as Ordinary in Kansas City was an anti-porn campaign, beginning with this in 2007: http://www.diocese-kcsj.org/_docs/Pastoral-02-07.pdf

    Not surprisingly, one of the most liberal parishes in the Diocese, and an outspoken critic of Bp Finn during the Shawn Ratigan affair, refused to participate in any meaningful way.

  22. VARoman says:

    I am also blessed to be in the Diocese of Arlington. We do have a wonderful Bishop and some really top notch priests. The availability of the Extraordinary Form is quite remarkable. And they are almost all by Parsih Priests! We are particularly fond of St. John the Beloved in McLean. Every Sunday at noon. You can even receive all the Sacraments in the Extraordinary Form!

    Regarding pornography… Our good Bishop has really been ahead of the curve. There is an excellent resource for Catholics. It’s called “Reclaim”. I’ve heard good things about it and I know it is based on the Theology of the Body.

  23. Minnesotan from Florida says:

    This has been a most enlightening thread, although, thank God, I have been free from problem or disturbance with regard to the matter at hand.

    It also seems that the Diocese of Arlington is a very fine diocese to live in. A very good friend lives there. I have gathered that he is much happier with parish schools nowadays than, say, 10 or 15 years ago. Is this the opinion of other posters from there s well?

    That said, may I, possibly at the cost of nitpicking, contribute to the cause of accuracy about a fine man and great American? Justice Scalia, at least when he was in law school, was universally known as “Nino.” I have gathered that he is nowadays also so known among his fellow Justices, and would assume generally. His name is, after all, not Anton or Anthony, but Antonin. Compare Dvorak. As he once said, 50+ years ago, the name is “Antoninus” [not “Antonius”]. Is there any evidence that anyone calls him “Tony”?

  24. Johnno says:

    Meanwhile in Canada, our government regulators are very very upset at the porn industry for… get this… breaking the law by not featuring enough Canadian content!!!

    Pornography is EXACTLY like a drug! Just like shooting up! Men do it when they want to have ‘fun’, but also men succumb to using drugs to escape depression and pain… This has been my personal case for the longest time. Much like an alcoholic, I resort to this stimulation to escape reality and forget depressing things in life and reality. I hate it, but every now and again I keeping falling into this same pit of sin! Please pray for me! I want it GONE!

  25. Charles E Flynn says:

    The remarkably brief treatment of the subject of pornography in the Catechism of the Catholic Church makes Bishop Loverde’s work all the more valuable.

  26. ALL: I removed the shoe-talk rabbit hole as being… well… ridiculous.

  27. rbbadger says:

    I was raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, otherwise known as the Mormons. However, thanks to the sheer mercy of God and His divine providence, I am a Catholic now. Coming into the Catholic Church, the idea of confession was not new to me. In the Mormon church, there are sins of a serious nature which must be confessed to the bishop, who is the local leader of the congregation. Generally, these sins tend to be of a sexual nature, though they could involve other things as well, such as grave dishonesty in one’s business dealings and the like.

    My sister posted on Facebook a link to an interview of a young Mormon woman struggling with a pornography addiction. According to the interview, Mormon bishops are noticing a distinct increase in problems with pornography for both men and women. My father, who is a former Mormon bishop, could probably tell you the same thing. It’s really a plague and no one is immune. God bless Bishop Loverde for writing about it.

  28. wolfeken says:

    This letter is terrific and the bishop ought to be commended (again).

    At the same time, Siculum (above) is incorrect with this statement: “To his credit, however, Bishop Loverde was allowing the Extraordinary Form in his diocese well before Summorum Pontificum, memorably at St. Catherine of Siena in Great Falls. ”

    The traditional Latin Mass was, sadly, “banned” until 2006, when two locations were permitted (in the same document allowing female altar boys) by Bishop Loverde after years of letters, lobbying and prayer by the faithful.

    As noted by others, Saint Catherine of Sienna (an Opus Dei magnet) does not offer the traditional Latin Mass, but has a Latin-English novus ordo.

    After Summorum Pontificum, numerous priests began to offer the traditional Latin Mass publicly. Currently 12 out of the 68 parishes in the diocese have a TLM at least once per month. Even the head of the diocese’s liturgy office offers the TLM. https://www.arlingtondiocese.org/worship/worship_celebrations.aspx

  29. Pingback: The Battle for Purity | Koinonia

Comments are closed.