Pastoral Letter on Pornography

Dear People of God:

We, your Pastors tasked to promote our common good, want to bring to your attention a major social concern these days, that of pornography. We are gravely distressed by what is happening in the media and the entertainment world nowadays. Tabloids attract attention not just on their sensational headlines, but more on the seductive poses of girls on their front pages. Movie ads and films project nudity and sexually explicit scenes to command higher commercial patronages.

With pornography, the dignity of the human person is debased. As it is bent on commercializing human sexuality, pornography degrades both the subjects, especially the women and young children, and the users themselves.

Allow us then to reflect with you on the evils of pornography, its causes and how they can be creatively solved. There is a need for an integral and coordinated effort to combat this social malady.

EFFECTS OF PORNOGRAPHY

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (n.2345) teaches that pornography is a grave offense, because it seriously injures the dignity of the participants. The subjects become objects of base pleasure and sources of illicit profit for others. Those who exploit them also degrade their humanity. Pornography creates an illusion of a fantasy world.

The Church’s condemnation of pornography stems from the fact that it destroys the essence of human sexuality and it corrodes human relationships, especially those of women and the children. Family life and marriage are gravely undermined. The moral fiber of society is weakened. Pornographic consumption is a major factor contributing to sexual crimes and the scandals that seriously affect the public consciousness. Police blotters are full of confessions of sexual and violent crime offenders about their addiction to some form of pornography.

CAUSES OF THE SOCIAL MALADY

The deeper cause of pornography is sheer greed, especially on the part of the producers and disseminators. In 1997 alone, there was a reported $15 billion profit from the sale of videotapes, the popularity of sexphone use, cable TV and Internet, without including movies and magazines.

This lucrative industry grows because people, mainly the male adults and young people, patronize it for the gratification it offers. A liberal attitude using as an excuse freedom of artistic expression lends support in justifying the making of porno materials.

Furthermore, the difficulties of effectively enforcing our existing laws on pornography worsen the malaise. With the development of technology like the Internet and the upsurge in the number of cable TV businesses, these difficulties are compounded. There is then the need to pass stringent laws against irresponsible use of these media tools. It is hoped that the two pending Congress bills (Senate Bill no. 336 and House Bill no. 1401) will help curb pornography on the Internet. There is a need for stronger political will in the fight against this evil force.

CREATIVE SOLUTIONS NEEDED

Before this gargantuan foe, the various sectors of our society need to join forces in seeking and working out creative solutions.

1. We urge professional communicators (tabloid publishers, Internet servers, artists, producers, movie and TV show distributors, those in advertising business) to form associations which will formulate and live up to ethical codes for the betterment of our people. Clearer guidelines on the ratings of the movie films should be formulated and implemented.

2. Parents should build in their children healthy attitudes toward human sexuality through their example and appropriate sex education. They should set house regulations that will prevent entry of pornographic garbage in their homes. They should also contribute to the values education programs of their children’s schools.

3. The schools are significant extensions of the children’s growth environment. They should help the students develop mature attitudes on sexuality and human relationships, especially in marriage and family life. Through integrated education, the students will learn the need to practice self-discipline and be discerning and critical consumers of media. We wish to express our strong objection to the use of pornographic materials and approaches in sex education classes held in our schools.

4. The initiatives of some private sectors to combat pornography are commendable. To these, we express our outright support. The general public needs to make its voice heard and known to producers, commercial interests and the public authorities. Writing protest letters against immoral materials being shown in public movies and TV or being sold on the newsstands will also prove effective. The viewing public should be made aware that patronage of lewd movies and entertainment shows express support for pornography. The active involvement of our lay people in the campaign against pornography is necessary and will lead to the effective transformation of our society.

5. We commend the efforts of the public authorities, particularly some police and military personnel, to curb pornography. We urge the consistent enforcement of laws against pornography. Our people expect also creative control of pornography in the Internet and telecoms.

We recall here that the Lord gives a stern warning against becoming the source of sin and scandal to the little ones. He would be better thrown into the sea with a great millstone around his neck (Mk 9:42). To eradicate pornography, there is a need to purify our hearts (cfr. Mt 5:28), for as the Church teaches, “the imbalances which the modern world labours are linked with that more basic imbalance of the heart” (Vat. II, Gaudium et Spes, no.10).

Let us invoke the powerful intercession of Mary our Mother whose purity of mind and heart helped her clearly see and fully live the will of God in her life in an act of devout service to others through Her Son Jesus our Lord.

For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines

+OSCAR V. CRUZ, D.D.
President
12 July 1999

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