CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 10 November 2018

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Pornography is a cancer in society

MANILA (SE): The bishops of one of the biggest exporting and exploiting countries of pornography, The Philippines, released an extensive pastoral letter dated February 10, Ash Wednesday, describing the industry as a pervasive social cancer that corrupts countless men, women and children.

“It is a global scourge that has been fed by the use of the Internet. Online, pornography is instantly accessible, apparently anonymous, and mostly free,” the letter signed by the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of The Philippines, Archbishop Socrates Villegas, says.

Although precise figures are difficult to come by, well researched estimates place the net global value of the online pornography industry at around US$100 billion ($775 billion) annually and The Philippines, with its lax supervision of Internet service providers and its large coterie of officials eager to be corrupted, has proven a popular choice for the operation of these sites.

Child pornography is an especially big industry in The Philippines, which now ranks in the top 10 of the major worldwide producers of online material, well backed up by its extensive sex-oriented tourism industry, which police forces and other agencies the world over attest affects the social fibre of every nation whose citizens avail themselves of its services.

International trafficking of children for sexual purposes out of The Philippines is a big and highly degrading industry that the most sophisticated forces of law enforcement around the world struggle to counter.

The bishops quote from one study that shows that child pornography in The Philippines is fuelled by foreign interests with ready cooperation from local enterprises, as its huge paedophile tourist industry, the hallmark of which is streets lined with seedy bars and nightclubs, has no trouble in providing victims to gratify the erotic tastes.

“These are the Filipino children whose innocence has been consumed for the pleasure of others,” the bishops say.

The letter quotes from a Study of World Internet Users and Population Statistics released in the United States of America in 2015, which claims that around 46 per cent of the world’s population has almost unlimited access to the Internet, and that the children of their own Pearl of the Orient Seas are among the most prolific users in Asia, with 82 per cent being online at least once a week and 37 per cent on a daily basis.

“It should not be surprising that pornography has invaded our homes, workplaces, schools and Churches,” the letter says.

The pastoral letter then quotes from the Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study of Filipino Youth produced in 2013, which reveals that 56.5 per cent of Filipinos aged between 15 and 24 have been exposed to pornographic videos and movies, with two-thirds of those exposed to explicit sexual reading material and a disturbing 15 per cent viewing pornographic sites.

“These young people are the future husbands and wives, fathers and mothers of our nation, whose capacity for self-giving love has been deeply wounded,” the letter says.

The bishops define pornography as removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties.

“This includes visual images, written texts and audio conversations created to arouse the erotic desires of others,” the bishops say in their definition.

They stress that this damages the ability of a husband and wife to give freely to each other and enjoy sexual intimacy as a personal gift from God.

Indeed alarming statistics linking frequent exposure to pornography and divorce in the western world back up this statement from the Philippine bishops.

The bishops note that the actors, the consumers, produces and distributors all suffer personal damage in the pornography industry, with every role that is played having a dehumanising effect, as the industry exists solely to objectify or commodify persons for illicit profit.

All suffer the indignity of being reduced to objects that are bought and sold for the gratification of others.

The bishops add that the pornography industry distorts the perspective of the value of the human person, a natural consequence of which is violence, abuse and the victimisation of others—especially women, as they become the mere object of consumers who are slaves to lust, or disordered desire.

However, it is especially harmful to children, as it stunts the growth of their ability to be self-giving.

“Empirical studies have shown that prolonged exposure to pornography in young people not only makes them cynical about love, marriage and child raising, but is also correlated with high-risk sexual behaviour that puts them at peril for sexually transmitted diseases,” the bishops say.

Pope Francis included pornography among the many things that can damage family life in his 2014 Lenten message.

“How much pain is caused in families because one of their members—often a young person—is in thrall to alcohol, drugs, gambling or pornography?” the pope queries.

But the bishops note that pornography can be addictive and does injure marriages and destroy families, mostly because it undermines the trust that binds husbands and wives, as well as children, together.

But the Philippine bishops reserve their most condemning words for those who distribute pornographic material, saying, “It turns them into callous exploiters who take advantage of the emotional, psychological and economic vulnerabilities of sex performers and consumers for profit and gain.

 

“It is particularly heinous when it makes them complicit in the crimes of child abuse and human trafficking. In the end, pornography blinds everyone to the true beauty and meaning of human sexuality.”

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