Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

Varia

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

The following are some of the highlights from the daily email briefing about news and events, which  I send out to some of my friends and contacts (if you’re interested in subscribing to the daily mailing, leave your email address in the comments box):

  • More responses to Time Magazine’s slander against the Holy Father from Tom Peters, Fr. Zuhlsdorf and Kathryn Jean Lopez.   For my response, see below.
  • An appalling story on the international surrogate parent business — a gross example of the objectification of the human person as an economic commodity, and the commercial and emotional exploitation of the poor and the desperate.
  • I typically refer to the pro-abortion movement as the “Cult of Moloch” because of its religious adherence to the sacrifice of children.  Here is a scary account by a former clinic worker, who relates that the clinic in which she worked was pervaded with the occult and looked upon abortion as a form of sacrifice.  On the positive side, this same woman credits prayer witness outside of the clinic as being instrumental in her conversion.
  • Speaking of the death-cult, Planned Parenthood has released its annual report, and once again the numbers are jarring.  $363 million in federal funding.  324,000 abortions (a 6% increase over the previous year) and only 9,400 adoption referrals. Another $700 million spent on spreading contraception and abortion internationally.  Time to defund the billion-dollar Murder Incorporated.  Joint the fight.
  • And, if you want to see the real-world effect of the work by the Temple of Moloch, read about the creeping genocide that is resulting from the high rates of abortion among blacks and Hispanics in New York City.
  • The new political climate, and the results of the November’s elections, means that key new GOP House leaders are likely to push for restrictions on federal funding for abortion.
  • Same-sex “marriage” advocates are gearing up for the battle in New York next year. See here and here.
  • If you want a glimpse into the Strange New World, check out this review of a book about “polyamory” (romantic/sexual relationships with multiple partners).  Coming soon to a “right to privacy” near you.
  • Kathryn Jean Lopez examines two competing views of the role of religion in public life: Sarah Palin’s v. John Kennedy’s.  See also Rick Santorum on the same issue.
  • The European Court of Human Rights decided a major abortion case this week, in a challenge to Ireland’s pro-life laws.  The court did not invent a fundamental right to abortion, but  did rule against some parts of Ireland’s pro-life legislation,  which undermines the abilities of nations to restrict abortion.
  • A heartrending story about a funeral held for babies who were stillborn, and whose bodies were abandoned in hospitals, the “unwanted dead”.
  • (Please note that these links will take you to websites that are not affiliated with the Archdiocese.  We neither take responsibility for nor endorse the contents of the websites.)

    Time Magazine Slanders the Holy Father

    Friday, December 17th, 2010

    Few careful observers would still expect much in the way of journalistic professionalism from the publication that used to be Time Magazine, particularly when it comes to religion in general, and the Catholic Church in particular.

    In its latest issue, Time proclaims its “Person of the Year”, accompanied by a list of “People Who Matter on Our World”.  As one might expect, many of the people on the latter list are athletes, actors and singers who, I imagine, “matter” to the kind of people whose world consists of the office of a mainstream magazine and who live in the cultural cocoon of New York City.  Hence the presence on the list of such giants as Ben Stiller and Justin Bieber.

    At least they recognized that the Holy Father “matters”.  After all, he only heads the largest single religious group in the world, and his words are instantly transmitted to virtually every nation on earth and studied closely by people of all faiths.

    But when you look at the inaccurate and tendentious profile they present of the Holy Father, it’s hard even to get past the first sentence without a strong constitution.  As the head of the child protection program of the Archdiocese, I was particularly astonished at the number of easily-proven falsehoods the story contained on that issue alone.

    Let’s look at what they have to say, as they present what they consider to be the “Highs” and “Lows” of the Holy Father, but which are actually a series of “lows” in journalistic professionalism.   The text of Time’s story is in italics, my analysis follows in bold:

    Highs: While the Pope remains firm on his decree that ordaining women as priests is a grave crime (the same designation given to pedophilia),

    Immediate Fail.  It is strictly true that in a revision of some provisions of the Code of Canon, the crimes of invalid ordination and clerical sexual misconduct were both classified as “grave crimes”.  But does anyone with any sense at all think that they are considered to be on an equal plane of seriousness?  After all, the United States Code classifies both assassinating the President and defacing coins as felonies — the civil equivalent of “grave crimes” — and nobody in their right mind would consider them to be on the same level.

    What is most astonishing is that anyone would consider that decision to be significant enough to include as the first item among the “Highs”.  After all, there was only the little matter of the Pope’s Apostolic Visit to the United Kingdom, which drew huge crowds and confounded the professional atheists.  Or the new document he issued on how to read and interpret the Bible, which will influence theology for the next generation at least.  Or the new book-length interview with a journalist — an unprecedented move for a Pope.  Those don’t even get mentioned.

    he was willing to loosen up — albeit ever so slightly — on another firmly-held edict. But while headlines around the world claimed Pope Benedict XVI endorsed the use of condoms, what the Pope actually said was a bit different. He still strongly disapproves of condom use as contraception, and said only that a male prostitute may choose to use a condom to prevent the spread of the HIV infection.

    This minor  comment by the Holy Father in the book interview is far from the most significant thing he said this year, by any rational standard.  And the characterization of the Pope’s comment is so far off the mark that one can only conclude in charity that the reporter didn’t read anything other than the wire reports about it.

    The Holy Father said nothing remotely close to “a male prostitute may choose to use a condom to prevent the spread of the HIV infection”.  Instead, he was clear that condoms were never a “real or moral solution” to the problem of HIV, that a life of virtuous sexuality was the only real answer, and that the only thing to be said in favor of the use of a condom was that it might reflect the first glimmers of the awakening of a person’s conscience.

    As an attempt at journalism, this must set some kind of record:  telling us that the media got the Holy Father wrong, and then going right ahead and getting it egregiously wrong anyway.

    Lows: Accusations of sexual abuse first from Ireland and later mainland Europe smashed any remaining perception that predatory priests were an American anomaly and thrust the Vatican into its greatest crisis since the 2002 revelations of abuse in the U.S.

    There is no doubt that sexual abuse and misconduct by clergy members were a personal low point for the Holy Father, who grieved for the victims and for the scandal caused to the Church.  But this completely misses the most significant story about clerical sexual abuse in 2010, and the thing that “mattered” the most — the Holy Father’s strong response to the crisis, particularly in Ireland.  His Letter to the Catholics of Ireland is a masterpiece of leadership, containing moral clarity, genuine contrition, and a commitment to rooting out the problem.

    But the Holy Father did even more — he ordered an independent review of Irish dioceses and seminaries, and undertook a review of procedures for dealing with clerical misconduct that would apply worldwide.  Those are real, concrete, and significant steps that “matter”, and will continue to “matter” for decades.

    The scandal brought the church’s standing to a new low among believers in Europe and, in March when allegations surfaced in Germany, turned the spotlight on the Pontiff himself. It seems 30 years ago, during a brief tenure in Munich, the Pope, then Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, had transferred a known abusive priest to his own archdiocese, ostensibly for therapy. But just days after his arrival, the priest was allowed to serve among the flock and subsequent sexual assaults occurred.

    This is really a new low for unprofessional and tendentious journalism.  The case referred to was never more than a tissue of unproven accusations on the flimsiest of evidence.  There has never been any evidence that the Holy Father (who was Archbishop of Munich at the time) participated in any way in the decision to transfer that priest to a new parish.  It’s just flat out false, as any review of the evidence would show.

    Indeed, all the persons who were involved in the actual decision have stated unequivocally that the Pope was not involved.  Even the New York Times, a consistent enemy of the Church that is always willing to cast Her in the worst possible light, couldn’t uncover any evidence other than that the Pope was copied on a memo about the transfer.  That’s all.

    While Benedict has done a number of substantial things to deal with the crisis, including meeting with abuse victims and accepting the resignation of high-ranking clerics, he remains silent on his time in Germany.

    This grudging, backhanded concession that the Pope has done “a number of substantial things to deal with the crisis” is really, really rich.  No man in the entire worldwide Church has done more to combat the stain of clerical abuse than the Holy Father.  For years he worked to strengthen penalties and improve procedures on the handling of the cases.  All parties recognize that he has been diligent and strong in the cases that he personally oversaw as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.  He has met with a number of victims in his Apostolic Visits, and has issued statement after statement condemning the sin and asking for the forgiveness of the victims.

    In fact, if anyone would like a lesson on the proper way to respond to the problem of clerical sexual abuse, the Holy Father is a good model.

    A few mistakes in a story like this is understandable.  But this many shows nothing short of a flagrant disregard of the truth that can only stem from hostility.

    In this issue of Time Magazine, professionalism doesn’t seem to “matter”.  But slandering the Holy Father — that seems to “matter” very much.

    What does “Influence” Mean?

    Saturday, May 1st, 2010

    So, Time Magazine (yes, it’s still being published) has come out with its annual “100 Most Influential People” list.  Their goal, they say, is to identify “the people who most affect our world”.

    Certainly there are many, many appropriate choices on the list.  But it also contains, shall we say, some idiosyncratic choices.  Ben Stiller, for instance, is cited as a “hero”.  Funny guy, but a “hero”?  And Conan O’Brien?  Also a funny guy, but he couldn’t even stop his show from being canceled in favor of another funny guy who’s not on the list.

    Anyway, guess who is missing from the list?

    If you guessed Lady Gaga, you’re wrong — she’s right there at the top of the “artist” list.

    But if you guessed that Pope Benedict wasn’t on the list, you’re right.

    In a way, this is not surprising.  By the standards of our secular culture, the Pope certainly cannot compare to such titans as Ashton Kutcher.

    Forget for a second that the Pope leads an institution with over a billion members, wrote a major encyclical letter on social doctrine, had an impact on debates over international aid and HIV, drew thousands to his speeches and sold thousands of books, has presided over a major reform of the Catholic liturgy, works to foster reunification with the second largest component of Christianity (Eastern Orthodoxy), strives to improve relations with Jewish people, has shaped the philosophical debate over the relationship between faith and reason, is the most consequential theologian of the last half-century, selects religious leaders (bishops) on every continent, visited the Holy Land and call for peace and reconciliation, influenced the debate in international institutions on major policy issues, or challenged an entire continent (Europe) to confront their relationship with their cultural history.

    Compared to putting sparklers on your bra like Lady Gaga, what does all that count for, in the eyes of the world?

    Where Is the Outrage?

    Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

    What will it take for the media to get on a real story of child abuse — not decades-old cases of clerical sex abuse, but the present involvement by the abortion industry in covering up the rape of children and lying to women about the nature of abortion?

    In the last two weeks, the pro-life group LiveAction, headed by the intrepid Lila Rose, has put out two undercover videos of her experiences in abortion clinics.

    The first found her in a Planned Parenthood clinic in Wisconsin.  Posing as a young girl seeking an abortion, she was told by a Planned Parenthood employee that her 6 to 8 week-ole baby had “no arms, no legs, no heart no head, no brain”, and that an unborn child at that age has no “identifiable parts” and is just “fetal matter.”  The clinic employee discouraged her from adoption, and urged her to have an abortion right as soon as possible.  View the video for yourself, and you’ll feel your blood pressure go up, especially if you have a daughter.  Yes, that’s really “pro-choice” — lying to women and pressing them to destroy their children.

    The next video is the worst.  Lila goes into an abortion clinic in Kentucky, claiming to be a 14-year-old girl who is 14 to 15 weeks pregnant.  The clinic worker coldly explains to her how she can evade the state’s parental notification laws by obtaining a “judicial bypass”, with the help of a local attorney.  So much for informed choice, if the girls’ parents won’t even know about the abortion.

    That was bad enough, but what happened next is stomach-turning.  The worker asks Lila how old her “boyfriend” is, and Lila tells her outright that he is 31 years old.  The clinic worker doesn’t bat an eye, and just tells her that this won’t be a problem for the “judicial bypass”.

    Think about that for a nauseating second — a 31-year-old adult, having sex with a 14-year-old.  That is rape, and it should be reported to the authorities instantly.  View the video for yourself and be sickened at the callousness of the clinic worker, who clearly just doesn’t care — after all, what’s  little rape when you’re in the murder business?

    In a day when technical flaws in cars are the subject of endless headlines, and where deception and fraud on Wall Street produces Presidential addresses, what does it say when child-rape and deception aren’t even newsworthy?

    It says to me that the conscience of our society has been deadened by indifference to and cooperation in the worst kind of child abuse — the killing of unborn children.  And until we recapture our reverence for human life at its earliest stages, all sorts of horrors are possible — and may even be inevitable.

    Questions the Times Never Asked — Updated

    Saturday, March 27th, 2010

    As Ronald Reagan once famously said, “There you go again”.  The New York Times published a story the other day about a sex abuse scandal in the Church, and it was — unsurprisingly — filled with errors and omissions.

    The facts in the story are fairly simple and uncontested — and horrendous.  It involved the case of a serial sex abuser, a priest who abused as many as two hundred deaf children from the 1950′s through 1974 of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.  Complaints were repeatedly raised about the priest’s misconduct, but he was never disciplined or removed.  In the mid-seventies the complaints were referred to the civil authorities, but he was not prosecuted.  The Archdiocese did remove him from ministry temporarily at that time, but he was later returned to work in the Diocese of Superior, where he served until the early 1990′s.  To put it mildly, the case was very, very badly handled by the Church, and many children suffered terribly as a result.

    In the mid-1990′s, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee decided to take action against the priest, in order to provide some justice to the victims in the deaf community, and in response to threats of civil legal action.  The Archdiocese petitioned the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (“CDF”) for instructions on how to proceed, and the CDF directed them to begin a canonical trial of the priest.  However, after a personal appeal by the priest, who was ill and near death, the CDF directed the trial to be terminated, and the priest died soon thereafter.

    The Times, of course, portrayed this as a failure by the CDF to “defrock” the priest, and accused it of “inaction”.  What a coincidence, of course, that the head of the CDF at the time was our current Holy Father, the then-Cardinal Ratzinger.

    That may all seem straight-forward, but there’s a major problem with how the Times reported it.

    This story involves an arcane and specialized subject — Canon Law in general, its penal provisions in particular, and the differing jurisdictions of dioceses, dicasteries and tribunals.  When a journalist is doing such a story in virtually any other area, they routinely consult an expert in that arcane and specialized field.  Yet in this article, we see that the reporter merely consulted a “Vatican spokesman”, reported second-hand an interview from an Italian newspaper, and quoted no canon lawyers.  In fact, there is virtually no discussion of the Canon Law at all in the story.  How do you write about a legal proceeding, without presenting or even understanding the proper legal framework and the applicable laws?

    If the Times had done their job and spoken to a canon lawyer, they would have seen that there were some fundamental questions that needed to be answered, in order to present the full story:

    1. What could the CDF have done about such a case in 1996-97?  At that time, under the Canon Law, the CDF did not have direct jurisdiction over the principal offenses committed by the priest, but only had jurisdiction over the crime of solicitation in the confessional.  In fact, if you read the documents attached to the Times’ story, that’s all that the Archdiocese of Milwaukee was writing to them about — not all the offenses, but just that one.  And, the CDF acted on that jurisdiction, by directing the Archdiocese to commence a canonical trial on the only offense over which they had jurisdiction.  How is that “inaction”?
    2. Could the CDF have done anything else about that case?  Under the Canon Law, the CDF had the authority to waive the statute of limitations for the offense involving the confessional, but had no authority to waive it for any other offense.  Again, if you read the documents attached to the Times’ story, it is crystal clear that this is precisely what the CDF did — it exercised its authority to permit the otherwise time-barred case to go forward.  This extraordinary act — which no court in the United States is authorized to do — was not even mentioned in the Times’ story.  And again, how is that “inaction”?
    3. Could the CDF have done anything else about the other crimes committed by the priest?  Under the Canon Law at the time, the CDF did not have jurisdiction over those other crimes, and all of those offenses were beyond the statute of limitations, which the CDF could not waive.  To find fault with the CDF for failing to have done anything outside their jurisdiction and authority, on offenses that were beyond the statute of limitations, would be like criticizing the Department of Agriculture for doing nothing in 2010 to prosecute a bank robbery from 1950 — it’s just legal nonsense.
    4. Could the Archdiocese of Milwaukee have done anything about the other offenses?  Unfortunately, by the 1990′s there was nothing they could have done either. All the offenses were beyond the statute of limitations and nobody had the authority to waive it.

    These questions were never asked by the Times, and as a result, the story is unfair and misleading.  The story accuses the Holy See of “inaction”, as if there was some fault in what the CDF did, when in fact they did everything they could have done within their authority as it existed at the time.  And the Holy Father gets no credit at all for making sure that the laws were changed in 2001 to give the CDF greatly expanded powers to adjudicate these cases, including the exclusive jurisdiction to try cases involving clerics and the power to waive the statute of limitations — authority that he used with great diligence.

    Don’t get me wrong here.  The crimes committed by this priest cry out to heaven for justice.  But you cannot just dispose of the rules in order to effect our idea of justice.  That’s the hallmark of arbitrary, oppressive regimes, not societies that respect the rule of law.

    How are we to explain this story?  Was it just unprofessional reporting?  Or, as I suspect, is it yet another instance of the Times’ inveterate bias against the Catholic Church?

    Update 1 — For an excellent step-by-step analysis of the actual evidence in this case, see this article by Jimmy Akin at the National Catholic Register website.  The Times should reprint his article, as a lesson on how to read and interpret Church documents relating to Canon Law.

    Update 2 — The priest who handled the canonical trial of this priest has written a response to the Times.  His most important comment — that no reporter has ever even contacted him to ask for his side of the story.  “All the News That’s Fit to Print”, indeed.

    Turning the Tables on the Culture of Death

    Saturday, February 27th, 2010

    In the last several weeks, two women have given us fine examples on how to turn the tables on the Culture of Death by doing a very simple thing — exposing the truth about abortion.

    Our first truth-teller is Catherine Davis, the minority-outreach director for Georgia Right-to-Life.  An African-American, Ms. Davis looked into the impact of abortion on blacks and was horrified at what she found — although blacks make up only 13% of the American population, they have almost 40% of abortions, and almost 40% of black pregnancies end in abortion.

    Her response was to start going to black churches and communities, and talking about this little-known truth.  The reaction has been striking, as blacks have reacted in horror to what is happening in their families.

    Her most recent effort has garnered a lot of attention, even in the mainstream media.  A series of billboards have been put up in the Atlanta with the provocative statement, “Black children are an endangered species”, and a Web site, www.toomanyaborted.com.  The news media has reacted by reporting on the “racial controversy”, but it has enabled Ms. Davis to get her point across.

    Good for her.

    Our second truth-teller is Lila Rose, who has released the latest of her series of video exposes of what goes on in Planned Parenthood abortion clinics when she goes in, posing as a pregnant teenager made pregnant by an adult. You can view her videos at her website, Live Action.

    She has consistently found that the clinic workers tell teenage girls to lie about the age of the men who got them pregnant, to evade laws requiring them to report incidents of statutory rape.  They also give advice on how to evade laws requiring parental notification when a minor seeks an abortion.  These exposes have actually led to some investigations of Planned Parenthood clinics.

    Good for her.

    Unfortunately, the rampant lawlessness of Planned Parenthood hasn’t stopped them from enjoying public favor and large amounts of government funding.  Maybe that would change if they were a car maker with faulty accelerators instead of an organization that corrupts young people with wicked “sex education” and kills a quarter of a million children each year.

    These incidents highlight once again that our greatest weapon in fighting the Culture of Death is the truth.  And that individuals can make a difference in the cause of life by standing up and speaking the truth.

    The March for Life and Real Feminism

    Monday, January 25th, 2010

    On the morning of January 22, the day of the March for Life, the odd publication that has taken over the name “Newsweek” published a piece online, asking “Who’s Missing” from the March, and coming to a most implausible conclusion — that it’s young women.

    Anyone who has ever been at the March, or who has seen photographs of it, can only shake their head at the level of self-delusion behind such a thought.  One of the most remarkable things about the March is the number of young people there, and the joy that they have in proclaiming their faith in the Gospel of Life.

    The folks at Newsweek, though, don’t see that, because it doesn’t fit into their narrative and they’re trapped by ideology.  According to the tenets of what passes for modern “feminism”, pro-lifers are mostly angry old white men, and a few angry old white women who have been oppressed by the evil heteropatriarchy.  That’s because modern “feminism” is rooted in a denial of authentic femininity, in particular a rejection of — and even fear and resentment of — fertility and motherhood.  They have traded authentic feminism for an illusory “freedom” that amounts to little more than the slavery of sexual license, and which requires adherence to the tragic “right” to destroy their own children.

    When you look at the world that way, you don’t have to bother to go out to the Washington Mall to see the tens of thousands of young women who were having a great time at the March.  Or to the Verizon Center to see the thousands of young women who were rejoicing at the Youth Rally.  You don’t even have to get up early to see the 50 young ladies from St. Barnabas High School, and the dozen more from Mt. St. Ursula Academy and St. Michael’s Academy, who took the bus to the March from my parish that morning.

    In many ways, the real message of the March is an affirmation of authentic feminism.  Real feminism recognizes that God made man and women equal, but complementary.  It understands the awesome meaning of the female body — a meaning that affirms fertility, that welcomes and nurtures new life, and that literally embodies an actively receptive love that is a model of our relationship with God Himself.  Real feminism is not afraid, or resentful, of fertility and parenthood, but understands that they part of the meaning of life — not just for women, but for men as well.

    If the reporter from Newsweek broke out of her ideological prison and came to the Mall, she could have seen this.  I saw it very clearly as I trudged up Constitution Avenue, all around me.  In particular, I saw it in three young women who were walking in my vicinity, near the Archdiocese banner.  To me, Annie, Lauren and Genevieve are perfect examples of what the March really means.  These smart, attractive young women, two of whom were there with their sleepy babies, have embraced their femininity, their fertility, and their faith with joy, and were joining the March to celebrate the miracle of life.

    Who’s missing from the March?  Not young people, and not young women either.  It’s modern feminists, who haven’t yet awakened to beauty of how God made them.

    Just Us Unedjikated Pro-lifers Here

    Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

    The absurd insular intellectual pretensions of our elite betters are rarely on display as blatantly and laughably as in David Brooks’ most recent column in the New York Times.

    Mr. Brooks reflected in his column on the fact that public opinion is shifting away from the positions held by “the educated class” on issues like abortion, climate change, “internationalism”, etc. After all, Mr. Brooks opines, all the “educated class” are in favor of “abortion rights”. I’m reading between the lines here, but that says to me that Mr. Brooks thinks that only “uneducated” people could possibly be against abortion.

    Right.

    I can only think that Mr. Brooks needs to get out more often, or at least he needs to encounter somebody other than the people he sees every day in the Times’ newsroom and the PBS television studio. Perhaps he could amble down to Princeton, where he might run across people like Robert George, the pro-life philosopher who was apparently “educated” enough that the Times even ran a profile of him recently. Or he could head north to Amherst, where he might meet Hadley Arkes, the philosopher and legal scholar who helped draft the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act. If he’d rather stay in the same area code, I’m sure that some of the folks associated with First Things magazine or National Review would be happy to find the time to talk to him. There actually is no shortage of people with fancy initials after their names and pretty diplomas on their walls, who can easily explain why they oppose abortion, in terms comprehensible even to members of the “educated class”.

    As for me, I’m perfectly happy hob-nobbing with my fellow “uneducated” types. I much prefer being with people who don’t need the kind of “education” that fails to understand the perfectly obvious truth — that an unborn child is a member of the human race, that she deserves our affection and love, and that society has an obligation to ensure that nobody will dismember her.

    It’s times like these that you really miss Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, who passed into eternal life just last year. With his puckish wit, he could certainly have done justice to this latest example of the delusive and risible conceit of the “educated class.”

    Thanks A Lot, Oprah

    Friday, November 20th, 2009

    Some of the young ladies in my office made the mistake of watching Oprah the other day, and they were scandalized.  No, it wasn’t the Sarah Palin interview.  It was an episode on “Women and Porn”.

    My colleagues expected that Oprah would examine the real destructive impact of porn on women.  Instead, the show was basically a promotional commercial for the porn industry, with the goal of encouraging women to indulge in that particular vice.  Thank you, so much, Oprah, for selling women on something that will do no good for them, and will hurt them and so many other people.

    For the real impact of porn on women, Oprah should have presented:

    • The number of child sexual abuse victims who wind up in the “sex industry”, perpetuating the abuse and damage even further.
    • The human trafficking industry, which enslaves women and children for profit and keeps them captive by violence and abuse. 
    • The realization that that every time we look at porn, the woman depicted is likely there because she was forced into it — and we are actually looking at a rape.
    • The number of “porn actors” who are addicted to drugs or alcohol, who suffer from severe psychological ailments, and who have died from drug and alcohol abuse, suicide and homicide.
    • The number of “sex workers” whose health is ruined by sexually transmitted diseases and violent crime.

    If you want to get into the effect of porn on marriages and families, her show would also have addressed:

    • The cyclical effect of porn, in which the user is dragged progressively into worse and worse varieties.
    • The close correlation between porn use and sexual crimes, especially child sexual abuse.
    • The desensitization of porn users to authentic sexual desire and activity, which destroys the intimate marital relationship and leaves both wife and husband feeling empty and used.
    • The feeling of betrayal that wives feel when they learn that their husbands seem to prefer the imaginary women of porn to their real, live spouse.
    • The waste of money and time spent on addictive behavior like internet porn.
    • The marriages that are destroyed by infidelity, largely induced by porn, sex talk over the internet, trips to “gentleman’s clubs” and prostitution.

    At this point, it is almost impossible to understate the terrible effect of porn on men and women.  It is also unfortunately impossible to understand the male experience of sexuality without appreciating the negative effects of porn.  It is present everywhere, and people are exposed to it from a very early age.

    Pope John Paul once pointed out the essential problem with porn.  It’s not that is shows too much — it certainly does that.  But the real problem is that we don’t see enough.  We see only images of a body, and not a person made in the image and likeness of God.  We then use that body as an object for our own pleasure, never seeing the real live person who is desperate for authentic love, but who instead is being exploited. 

    This is an issue that strikes home with me.  Thanks to lots of grace, and with the help of the authentic love of my spouse, I am trying to live the teaching of our Church (especially the Theology of the Body).  But I can never get complacent or over-confident. I always have to keep in mind that “it depends not upon man’s will or exertion, but upon God’s mercy” (Rom. 9:16).  In my marriage preparation talks, I urge the men to get porn out of their lives, to throw out the magazines and movies, and to take close care every time they go online.  I speak to them with a conviction born of bad experience.  I pray that they listen.

    Thanks to things like this Oprah episode, I realize now that I’ll have to address my remarks to the women as well.  Some progress.

    Ethics, Religious Instruction, and The Times

    Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

    Anyone who consults the New York Times for ethical advice should have their head examined. This, a newspaper that never met an abortion that it didn’t like, and that gives a public forum to Peter Singer, the proponent of murdering infants and euthanizing the elderly.

    But, some people obviously lack prudence, and consult the Newspaper of Record to help them deal with ethical problems. Thus it was that on Sunday, the following exchange occurred in a column entitled “The Ethicist”:

    I volunteer as a Sunday-school teacher at my Catholic church. While I consider myself Catholic and understand Catholic beliefs, I do not agree with all that the church teaches. When a student asks me about a topic on which the church and I differ, may I reply with my own beliefs in addition to the official doctrine? B.J.,WASHINGTON

    The Ethicist: Your church asked you to teach a class in Catholic doctrine, not one in B. J.’s views of Catholic doctrine, a reasonable, if personally inhibiting, request. But to give students a real understanding of both this doctrine and the state of the modern church, you may — you should — provide some context. It is a matter of fact, and not a trivial one, that many Catholics differ with their church on all sorts of things. (For example, Catholic Americans practice contraception at about the same rate as non-Catholics, official church policy notwithstanding.) To note that opinions differ within your religious community would be to convey something objectively true, pertinent to the discussion and informative for the students. You would not be offering your personal views, which are beside the point in this setting. Indeed, a Jew or a Muslim, a Hindu or an atheist, could honorably teach this class using these guidelines, giving the students a rich understanding of the subject without broaching the teacher’s personal beliefs.

    UPDATE: B.J. presents church doctrine “their way” then tells his students that some Catholics feel different and discusses how. He urges his students to think about these things and discuss them with their parents.

    Let’s consider how many ways this is wrong.

    First of all, when a Catholic has an ethical dilemma, the right thing to do is to form a correct and Catholic conscience. To do that, we turn to Sacred Scripture and the authentic teachings of the Church, and we find a good advisor, somebody who is well-formed in their Catholic faith, who has sufficient knowledge and prudence that we can trust them to lead us to understand the will of God. We don’t consult with the New York Times, of all people. Talk about “blind guides”!

    Now let’s look at the situation B.J. finds himself in. Remember now, this is not a college class in religious studies. It is a class with young children who need to be formed in their faith. Presumably, when a catechist is entrusted with this task, they understand that they have an obligation to present the authentic teachings of the Church. Presumably they also affirm that they will do so, at least implicitly. Parents certainly expect that they will do so, and so do the pastors who delegate this task to them.

    Instead, here is the “Ethicist”, advising this man to forswear himself by breaking a solemn duty to the pastor and the parents and the children to teach authentic Catholic doctrine. And also participating in an active deception, by purporting to teach the truth but actually presenting false teaching as if it were a matter for “discussion”. So we’ve got a serious Eighth Commandment problem here.

    We also have a person who will be exposing children to false doctrines, and leading them to believe that Church teachings are merely optional and are subject to private judgment. I doubt that B.J. is a crypto-Monophysite, or a semi-Pelagian, or that he seriously disagrees with the Filioque clause. Instead, I expect that the teachings B.J. objects to are all the usual dreary subjects of modern dissent — sex outside of marriage, homosexuality, divorce, contraception, etc. The stakes are high here — a false belief here could lead others into the serious risk of committing grave sins. B.J. is treading on very delicate, and dangerous ground here.

    I think the Lord had something to say about that. Oh, yes, he was pretty clear:

    whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. (Mt. 18:6)

    The theological term for this is scandal, teaching others false beliefs and thus inducing them to sin. It is a violation of the Fifth Commandment, because it leads others to spiritual death.

    The Ethicist should have said this to B.J.:

    If you are a man of integrity, you have two choices, and two required actions. Choice One: Say nothing to the students about your disagreements with Church teaching, and instead do your job and present authentic Church doctrine, as you promised. Choice Two: If you cannot refrain from presenting your personal opinion as an alternative to the teaching of the Church, resign. Required Action One: Learn more about the true teachings of the Church. Required Action Two: Never consult the Times about ethics, but instead consult with good solid Catholics who are trustworthy guides to the will of God and form a correct and Catholic conscience in accord with Church teaching.

    Church teaching is the Truth, not mere opinion that can be taken or left. We do nobody any favors by presenting falsehood as if it is on an equal plane with the Truth. In fact, we do them a grave disservice, and even endanger their souls and our own.