Friday, December 01, 2006

A Hard-Core Pastoral

In a 23-page document released yesterday, Bishop Paul Loverde of Arlington introduces a first-of-its-kind pastoral letter by saying that "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."

In Bought With a Price: Pornography and the Attack on the Living Temple of God, the Northern Virginia prelate observes that the "plague" of porn
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.
Couched in strong language and filled with citations from the liturgy, Scripture, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the letter offers pastoral advice for the whole church: priests, young people, couples, and some general insights for the wider public. Alongside urging each group to entrust itself to the protection of St Joseph, citing the purity and integrity of the Lord's foster father, the bishop also rebuts several "false arguments" used to defend the medium point-by-point.

Calling its production industry a "criminal enterprise," Loverde assails its continuance and expanding presence in society as "a crime against the helpless and the disaffected on whom it preys and an affront to a civilized populace."

"The immorality of pornography comes, first of all, from the fact that it distorts the truth about human sexuality," he said.

Coming on the heels of Bishop Michael Bransfield of Wheeling-Charleston's groundbreaking letter on health, it seems this fall's been the season of blockbuster pastorals in the province of Baltimore.