BALTIMORE — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) approved a formal statement, “Create in Me a Clean Heart: A Pastoral Response to Pornography,” at their annual Fall General Assembly in Baltimore, November 17.
The statement was approved by the full body of bishops, with 230 votes in favor, 4 against and 1 abstaining.
“My brother bishops’ approval of this statement shows our collective concern for the widespread problem of pornography in our culture today,” said Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, New York, chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family and Youth (LMFLY), which led the statement’s development. “As the statement says, virtually everyone is affected by pornography in some way. So many people –including within the Church– are in need of Christ’s abundant mercy and healing. My hope is that the statement can serve as a foundation and catalyst for increased pastoral attention to this challenge at the national and local level.”
The formal statement provides a basic catechesis on human sexuality and chastity, an explanation of why the production and use of pornography is a sin, an overview of its effects in our society, a closer look at its effects on men, women, children, young people, marriages and families, and a word of hope and encouragement to those who have been harmed by pornography use or in its production. The statement’s main audiences are Catholic leaders and parents, but it is also intended to be helpful for those who struggle with pornography use and all people of goodwill who want to work together for a culture of purity and respect for all women and men.
The full text of “Create in Me a Clean Heart” is available online at www.usccb.org/cleanheart, along with other USCCB resources on pornography. A printed version in English and Spanish will be available in early 2016. The LMFLY Committee plans to develop supplementary material in 2016, including an abridged version of the statement and targeted resources for priests, parents, and young people among others.