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Scroll to bottom to navigate to different departments

Not your grandpa's porn –

Has the Church caught

up to the problem? 

 

Denver, Colo., Apr 19, 2016 / 03:36 am (CNA) - Clay Olsen speaks to thousands of youth about a subject most people would rather not touch: pornography.

As the founder and CEO of Fight the New Drug, an organization that educates people about pornography addiction, Olsen travels the country giving presentations to young people about how pornography is affecting their brains, their relationships and ultimately the world.

Olsen told CNA that after one particular presentation, a young man asked a question that perfectly illustrates how drastically pornography has changed.

“He asked me very sincerely whether Playboy was pornography or not,” Olsen recalled.

“His definition of pornography had shifted so dramatically...that Playboy doesn’t even make the cut.”

Importantly, this young man is the rule of his generation, not the exception, Olsen said. The effects of constant access to the Internet, made possible by the availability of personal laptops, tablets, and smartphones, has drastically changed how young people consume pornography in a way that many adults dangerously underestimate.

An evolving problem

In the earlier days of the Internet, before the boom of smartphones, a 2004 study from an internet traffic management company saw porn sites grow by 1,800% between 1998 and 2004. At the time, Nielsen/Net ratings estimated that about 34 million people visited adult websites every month.

Today, those numbers seem almost laughable. PornHub, one of the world’s largest adult sites with explicit video streaming, reports that it averages 2.4 million visitors per hour. In 2015 alone, the number of hours streamed from the site was double the amount of time human beings have populated the Earth, according to TIME Magazine.

The amount of content is not the only thing that has changed either. Because of the constant availability of pornography, many users find themselves seeking more and more extreme forms of content, and the Internet has kept up with the demand.

As reported in the Washington Post, a recent content analysis of some of the most popular porn sites found that 88 percent of analyzed scenes contained physical aggression such as spanking, gagging, choking or slapping, and verbal aggression occurred in 49 percent of the scenes. Men perpetrated 70 percent of the aggressive acts, while women were the targets 94 percent of the time.

Several studies have also shown a correlation between the viewing of pornography and the likelihood of committing, or wanting to commit, rape or sexual assault. Other studies show a correlation between men who consume pornography and experience erectile dysfunction, once thought to mostly be a condition of older men.

“So you combine those two things - the prevalence and then also the nature - and that cocktail is really what has driven individuals like myself and those that work with me, and millions of others, to rise up and say we can do better, we have to do better,” Olsen said.

Fortunately, Olsen added, it seems that society may finally be catching up to the truth about the harmful nature of porn. Last month, Belinda Lascombe for TIME Magazine chronicled the stories of young men who are anti-porn advocates after their experiences of porn addiction and consequential impotence. A follow-up op-ed from the Washington Post declared that regardless of pornography’s morality, it’s a public health issue. Also last month, Utah’s Senate unanimously approved a resolution declaring pornography addiction a public health crisis.

Shortcomings in the Church

But what about the Catholic Church? Is enough being done to make the faithful aware of the danger of pornography – to provide resources both protecting those who have not fallen victim and reaching out to those who have?  

Pope Francis’ most recent papal exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, mentions pornography directly just two times - once to mention that the bishops have expressed concern about it, and once to mention it within the context of age-appropriate sex education.

But that the word made it into the document at all is a significant step, said Fr. Sean Kilcawley, a priest with the Diocese of Lincoln who has spent a significant amount of his priesthood in pornography addiction and educational ministry. He currently serves as the program director and theological advisor for Integrity Restored, a Catholic apostolate that addresses pornography issues and addiction in families, individuals and clergy.

“Pope Francis has talked about pornography more than any other pope in history, I guarantee it,” Fr. Kilcawley told CNA.  

Last June aboard the papal plane, Pope Francis (who does not use the internet or watch TV, and reads just one newspaper) told journalists that parents need to be aware of the “dirty” content, including pornography, that can be found online, and urged them to take preventative steps such as keeping computers in common rooms. He has also mentioned the issue in various homilies and talks, particularly to youth, throughout his pontificate.

The problem in the Church, on a practical and local level, is that pornography addiction treatment programs need to part of a parish’s mainstream ministry and not seen as an obscure ministry needed by the few, Fr. Kilcawley said.

“Anti-pornography ministry is not a peripheral ministry,” he stressed.

“We don’t just need tools to help a few people, we have to take those tools and incorporate them into an evangelization plan that’s trying to evangelize within an entire culture that’s being affected by pornography,” he said.

“Pornography is the biggest obstacle to evangelization that we’re facing as a Church,” Fr. Kilcawley added. “Because the core beliefs of an addict are I’m unlovable, if people really knew me they would reject me, no one can meet my needs not even God.”

Matt Fradd, director of content at Integrity Restored, said the clergy abuse scandal could be part of the reason that clergy are so reticent about addressing pornography.

  The demand is enormous, there are many that are struggling...We get emails from 8-year-olds, 9-year-olds, 10-year-olds.

“If sex plus kids equals lawsuits...is it any wonder that nobody wants to talk to kids about pornography?” Fradd told CNA.

Fr. Kilcawley also said some priests may also feel shame addressing the issue due to their own sexual stories.

“We might be afraid that if we talk about it, people will think that we have a problem with it, and so whether we have a problem or not, we can be afraid of that,” Fr. Kilcawley said.

Reluctance to address the issue publicly could also be because of a priest’s own struggle with pornography. In comments to CNA in October 2015, at the time of the Ordinary Synod on the Family in Rome, Archbishop Charles Chaput said that pornography was a major issue among clergy.

“The number of our Catholic clergy who struggle with this problem is very unsettling, and it has nothing to do with celibacy,” the archbishop said, noting that Protestant ministers and Jewish rabbis contend with the same issue. A 2000 survey by Christianity Today found that clergy and laity reported visiting sexually explicit websites at nearly the same rates.

“Pornography’s always been a problem. Ancient Rome was famous for it. Sex is powerful and fascinating, and people have always abused its appeal. … It’s an epidemic, or more accurately, a pandemic. Anyone with an Internet connection anywhere in the world can find all the (pornography) he or she wants,” Archbishop Chaput noted.

But given the prevalence of pornography and its damaging effects, Olsen said, adults can no longer afford to avoid addressing this issue with the children in their lives.

“For many adults, the inclination is to not discuss it. In their opinion, it's hard, it’s gross, it’s I don’t even want to go there, let’s not focus on it. And although I totally and completely respect their intent and their desires, I have to respectfully come back and say we no longer have the luxury as a society, to sit idly by and watch things continue to progress in a very harmful and societally damaging way.”

Pornography is also important for priests to address with their parishioners in order for them to feel comfortable enough to seek healing, Fr. Kilcawley said.

“It’s just giving people permission to be wounded, which I think is what Pope Francis has been trying to do,” Fr. Kilcawley said. “You have permission to be wounded, and so it’s ok to come and tell your priest that you have this problem in your life. He’s not going to run away from you, he’s not going to scold you, he’s not going to condemn you, he just wants to help you heal.”

“The most shameful sins in our life, we need permission to talk about them,” he said.

Finding solutions

Part of what Fr. Kilcawley does for his anti-pornography ministry is to talk to the parents of his first communicants at a retreat about motherhood and fatherhood within the context of the Church’s teaching on the Theology of the Body. He also spends an hour on internet safety and sex education.

“Pastorally speaking, the best approach is to focus on prevention and focus on relationships within the family, evangelization within the family, and protecting kids from pornography, and the more we talk about it in that way, it’s both bold and less threatening, and then it gives people the freedom to come to the Church to look for healing.”

Once he started talking about the issue of pornography with families, Fr. Kilcawley had so many adults approach him about pornography addiction that he decided to form support groups as well. He now is in charge of a group for men addicted to pornography, as well as a group for women whose husbands are addicted to pornography.

Fr. Kilcawley said he also encourages people who are addicted to abstain from receiving the Eucharist unless they have gone to confession. Even though they may not be in a state of mortal sin due to the compulsive nature of the behavior, not being able to receive the Eucharist unless having gone to confession is an added incentive in the recovery process.

Fradd said talking to kids about pornography in an age-appropriate way is one of the best means to prevent future pornography use and addiction. And the younger parents start, the better, since some researchers estimate the average age of pornography exposure today is 8 years-old.

“I feel like we’re guinea pigs, because parenting in the 8th century and the 13th and the 19th - it was relatively similar compared to parenting in the 21st century,” Fradd said. “The internet really has changed everything.”  

Integrity Restored provides parents with free resources about the best ways to talk to their children about pornography. There’s also a children’s book called “Good Pictures Bad Pictures” by Kristen Jenson (available on Amazon), for broaching the subject with the youngest of audiences in an age appropriate way.

Integrity Restored also provides free resources to priests looking for the best ways to broach the subject with their congregations, and hosts symposiums in dioceses in order to educate priests, catechists and the general public on the issue.

Fradd also founded The Porn Effect, which is the youth outreach branch of Integrity Restored that educates youth and provides resources for them about pornography use and addiction. Another important aspect of prevention is internet filters and accountability systems, for which Fradd said he recommends Covenant Eyes.

Olsen said he thinks the best approach to combat a culture of pornography is three-tiered: prevention in children, research on the subject, and recovery therapy programs. Fight the New Drug has spent several years working with neuroscientists and psychologists to develop the Fortified Program, a free and anonymous online recovery program for youth. It currently has over 35,000 users in over 155 countries, and Olsen said he didn’t even put “a penny into marketing or advertising.”

“So the demand is enormous, there are many that are struggling,” he said. “We get emails from 8-year-olds, 9-year-olds, 10-year-olds.”

That the program is free and anonymous is key, Olsen said, because many of these children seeking help will stop once they see either a credit card or parental consent is required, “both of which are a Mount Everest that they are unwilling or unable to climb,” he said.

“We have created a solution that they can jump into that will help them overcome that, so recovery is a big part of how we will heal society.”

Fradd said that in many ways, the resources that the Church needs in order to better address this issue already exist - they just need to be utilized.

“We’re all kind of playing catch up to honest,” he said. “There are beautiful things happening, we just need to know about them.”

Past Issues

Dec. 23, 2018

Dec. 9, 2018

Nov. 25, 2018

Nov. 11, 2018

Oct. 28, 2018

Oct. 14, 2018

Sept. 16, 2018

KEYWORDS, PHRASES: 2018 Golf Classic; student athletes; physically challenged; Leonard Stegman; Lesson in forgiveness; Sending us on a mission

Sept. 2, 2018

KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Priest crisis; Scandal; Opioid addictions; Seeds of Suicide; Leightons; St. Anne; Vincke; seminarians; Dominican Sisters; Stewardship Conference; Dead Sea Scrolls; PSR programs; Roe V. Wade

 

August 12, 2018

KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Prayer and Action; Totus Tuus; Janee Bernal; Diana Ramirez; Heidy Ramirez; Bishop Gilmore honored for 20 years ministry; suicide; contraception and abortion; Dead Sea Scrolls; Humanae Vitae; certification in youth ministry; Chuck Weber; Cathedral rectory chapel; Sister Viola Heichelbech; Adam Urban

July 15, 2018

KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Immigration Protest/Rally; Faith and Light Fiesta; Seeing the Dead Sea Scrolls; Corpus Christi procession; Prayers for priests; Sisters turn 100; Michael Brungardt; Gerald Vincke; Massacre in San Salvador; Action for Alex 

 

June 3, 2018

KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Parish Pray for Priestly Vocations; Appeal reaches $10 million; Gangs; Seminarians; Pam Willis; Why I like being a priest; Happy Father's Day; Patricia Lujan; Tyler and Rachel Bennett; Adoption Protection Act.

May 20, 2018
KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Track meet; Beloved Sinners; Benjamin Martin retires; Smiles; Future of Fortune Telling; Hoisington mission; DofI; Getting Equipped; Spring Social; First Communion; Confirmation
KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Track meet; Beloved Sinners; Benjamin Martin retires; Smiles; Future of Fortune Telling; Hoisington mission; DofI; Getting Equipped; Spring Social; First Communion; Confirmation

May 6, 2018

KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Archbishop Romero; Seeing, Touching, Tasting; Exhortation; Father Patrick Conroy; Happy Mother's Day; A child on your doorstep; Vibrant Ministries Grant; From the heart of a young father; Love Gives Life; Roman Holiday; Smartphone; retirement
Fossil Hunting

 

April 15, 2018

 KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Easter Vigil; Angelica Village; Colorado woman; The art of anger; Cimarron Couple; Staats; Adoption; 

Father Ultan Murphy anniversary; Coughlan; Spiritual Advisor to Hoodlums; Woman of Courage; Oration contest; Darcy Feist  

 

April 1, 2018

 

 KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Defending Adoption; Led by the Spirit; Knights; ABC Pregnancy Center;
Memorial of Mary; Homeless; Relics; Down syndrome abortion; Chrism Mass

 

March 18, 2018

KEYWORDS, PHRASES: SKYAC; Aleksandr Men; Fasting for Priestly Vocations; Uganda; School for deaf; Rannah Evetts; Oberle; Rachel and Doug Trombley; Oscar Romero; Paul VI; DACA

 

 

March 4, 2018

KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Fasting for priestly vocations; Father Juan; Fasting and prayer;
Quest Weekend 2018; DACA; With God, anything is possible; Homelessness in our communities; Rhubarb, Kansas;
What's the point of fasting; Rite of Election; same-sex couples

 

Feb. 18, 2018

KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Catholic Schools Week; Rachel Doll; Ellinwood; Great Bend; Garden City; Ness City; Dodge City; Sister Rita Schwarzenberger; Nigeria; Bishop Hermes; Fasting for Priestly Vocations; World Day for Consecrated Life; 50th Anniversary St. Dominic School; What will life be like in 50 years?

 

 

Feb. 4, 2018

 

KEYWORDS, PHRASES: March for Life; Tracy and Ross Smith; Adoption; Vibrant Ministries; Faith and Light;
Pro-Life; Mortal sin to discard elderly; DACA; Abortion; Dreamers; Human Trafficking

 

Jan. 21, 2018

 KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Louise Korbe; Anne Frank; Miep Gies; Home Heat; Father Solanus

 

Jan. 7, 2018

KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Good news and kingdom living; dreamers; Sister Teresa Orozco; Infant Adoption; Elderly; a moral conundrum; seminarian; feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

 

Dec. 17, 2017

KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Celebrate Christmas 'unplugged'; Msgr. Matthew Smith; Klan; Catholic Charities Annual Appeal; Fr. Larry Rosebaugh; A Guadalupe Encounter; Laci and Joe Salazar; A Christmas Wish; Adoption; Confession; Advent; EWTN; Christmas Blues; Tilma; Pittsburgh; PSR

 

Dec. 3, 2017

 KEYWORDS, PHRASES: 2017 NCYC; Wheel of Balance; Marita Rother; Stanley Rother; slavery; trafficking; Windthorst water damage; martyred priests; confession; reconciliation; How to go to confession; recipe for codfish cakes; Catholic schools; appeal

 

Nov. 19, 2017

 KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Saints; Father Kola; Black Elk; Giving Tuesday; velvet Elvis; a Slice of Time; Dani Sandoval; Mexican Village; Father Tim Hickey; New faces at chancery; priests share thoughts on confession; Wheel of Balance

 

Nov. 5, 2017

KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Matrimony Anniversary Mass, 2017; Riebel; Faith and Light; Scripture Day; Sex in the Bible; Quilt, Mexican Village Story; Finance; Fatima pilgrimage; Fowler church window renovation; Medicare; Crazy Glue


Oct. 15, 2017

KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Father Francis Jordan; Sister Renee Kirmer; Father Rother beatified; religious liberty; RCIA Kansas; V Encuentro; Bishop Weisenburger; Daughters of Isabella; Bishop Gerber Science Center


Oct. 1, 2017

KEYWORDS, PHRASES: De Colores; Rebein; Dreamer; Pies; Kellner; Code Quilts; Sister Crucita; Feezor; Formed.org; Sin and pain

 

 Sept. 17, 2017

 

 KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Sister Lucy Fidelis; Underground Railroad; Sister Irene Hartman; DACA; new priests; teachers; Volunteer of the Year; Golf Classic; St. Francis Xavier; St. Nicholas Parish Center, Kinsley; seminarians; Knights Lite; Stewardship Day 2017

Sept. 3, 2017

Aug. 13, 2017

 KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Coronado Cross; Masada; Moody Gardens; Elders; Rother; undocumented children; cages; year of mercy; Kumi; Hollywood makeup artist; New Mexico; refugee women.

July 16, 2017

KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Summer camp; tithing and almsgiving; Bill Baalmann; Nathan Schaller; Jubilarian Sisters; Sister Hortencia Rodriguez; Sister Petrona Stockemer; Sister Denise Sevart; Convocation of Catholic Leaders; Mother talks about her son entering seminary; Arcoiris; Youth group travels to Colorado Springs; Major Phillip Roth

June 11, 2017 (Updated)

Ordination; Mark Brantley; Jacob Schneider; Father's Day; Thanks, Dad!; Appeal; Sister Mary Martin Weaver; Bishop Maralit; Budget; Trafficked women; Deacon Michael Brungardt; Dead Sea Scrolls; softball; Father Urban retirement; Sister Kravec retirement; Father Mazouch retirement; Authentic Joy; Pris Climate Accord; Jack Schramm; Pieta.

May 28, 2017 (Updated)

 

Grateful Hearts; MSFS Provincial; Reddy; Reif; Opossum; Dead Sea Scrolls; Our Lady of Fatima; Jorge Herrera, Jr.; Cursillo; Kough; First Communion; Confirmation

May 14, 2017

Esteban Hernandez; citizen; Lilly Ann Rein, Amberly Jimenez, Mother's Day; peacock; Quattrocchi; President Kennedy; Teen Moms; Junior High Youth Rally; Encounter With God's Call; granny/nanny; seniors' contributions; tornado anniversary; harvest; healthcare; Mr. Brown; Store-bought teeth; Louis and Zelie Martin; Father John Sullivan; Irish priest whose prayers could heal; Mexican beauty queen; Esmaralda Gonzalez; religious life

April 30, 2017

   KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Easter Vigil; bully; TEC; Father Marvin Reif; Bet'sie; What makes a hero?; St. Mary of the Plains; tornado

Easter, 2017

 KEYWORDS, PHRASES: SKYAC; Honorable courtship; footsteps of migrants; CHRISM Mass 2017; honoring priests; Encuentro Cross blessed; Daughters of Isabella State Convention; Fatima pilgrim statue; Mary Sharon Moore interview; Senate advances pro-life measures; love must be at the core of family life; Father John Forkuoh's car story; Confirmations; Sisters of Concordia; CNN hero Father Khalil Jaar

March 26, 2017

KEYWORDS, PHRASES: From the heart; kidney; Rother; Friar Carmelo; Schnauzer; Lauren Seachris; Lauren's Treat; fire; Guatemala; immigration; Lenten Regulations 1888; Hot Cross Buns; budget; Trump; Forkuoh; Seiwert; South Sudan; hot ashes

March 12, 2017

KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Refugees; immigrants; Gilbert Herrman; When you give alms'; Lent; Call to Continuing Conversion, Rite of Election; Charell and Jeremy Owings; adoption; Our Growing Church; Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia; water; creation; Sudan; Darlow Lampe

Feb 26, 2017

 KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Night to shine; Immigration; immigrants; Knights of Columbus; Pete Gomez; this foreign mission; Creole; Robin Doll; Eagle Scout; Quest

Feb 12, 2017

KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Catholic Schools Week; March for Life; Pro-life; Executive Order; Secular Franciscan Order; teachers; Down Syndrome; Eagle Scout; Bronze Pelican

Jan. 29, 2017

KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Thank you, religious; SEEK 2017; homeless man to priest; Fourth Sunday; Secret Service to Sacred Heart; Dr. Gerard Brungardt; Martin Luther King; 110 year old nun; Toddler miracle; Letter from undocumented immigrant; health care; immigration

Jan. 15, 2017

KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Mary helps us share; Tighe donates home to Birthright; Pro-life billboard; Theobald Hattrup; Helen and Steve Eck; Pearl Harbor; Reigning Grace

Dec. 18, 2017

KEYWORDS: Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, 2016; Pope Francis Christmas schedule; 2016 high school youth rally; Aerospace engineer; Father Stanley Rother; Radio station; Dying girl's letter; Scout nominations; 12 days of Christmas

Dec. 4, 2016

KEYWORDS: Vocations Day; Pope Advent advice; Ex-prostitute; Spearville mission; Pilgrims v. Zombies; Face of God; Mission bazaar; Ness City fall festival; Rural health care; Archbishop Gomez; Bishops congratulate Trump

Nov. 20, 2016

Nov. 6, 2016

Oct. 23, 2016

Oct. 9, 2016


Sept. 25, 2016


Sept. 11, 2016

 
Aug. 7, 2016

July 10, 2016

June 12, 2016

May 29, 2016

May 8, 2016


 April 24, 2016

 April 10, 2016

 March 27, 2016

March 13, 2016

Feb. 28, 2016

 

Feb. 14, 2016


Jan. 31 , 2016

Jan. 17, 2016

Dec. 20, 2015

Dec. 6, 2015

Nov. 15, 2015

Nov. 1, 2015

Oct. 18, 2015

Oct. 4, 2015

Sept. 20, 2015

Sept. 6, 2015

August 9, 2015

July 12, 2015

Jun 14, 2015

May 17, 2015

May 3, 2015

April 19, 2015

Easter, 2015

 

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