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Safe Haven Sunday aims to raise awareness of pornography’s harms

By Katrina Genereux/Associate Editor, OND

The bishops of Minnesota have designated March 3 as “Safe Haven Sunday.” That weekend at Masses throughout the state, the harmful effects of pornography on youth, marriages, families and its victims will be highlighted as well as resources to protect individuals, marriages and families.

A 2015 statement from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) “Create in me a Clean Heart: A Pastoral Response to Pornography” inspired the creation of Safe Haven Sunday. The document states: “The use of pornography by anyone in the home deprives the home of its role as a safe haven and has negative effects throughout a family’s life and across generations.”

Safe Haven Sunday was first observed in the Archdiocese of New Orleans Feb. 17-19, 2018. This year, 16 dioceses – including the six dioceses of Minnesota – will hold Safe Haven Sunday. Parish priests have been supplied with information and tools to implement Safe Haven Sunday. The content for Safe Haven Sunday was created by Covenant Eyes, a company that provides internet accountability software. Their goal is to equip people with tools that offer protection online and encourage accountability and trust in the fight against internet temptation.

Access to pornography used to be more hidden, but with the increased use and mobility of technology, any device with internet access can be a portal to pornographic content.

A 2008 study showed that 93 percent of boys and 62 percent of girls were exposed to pornography before they turned 18. More than 30 major studies conducted since 2009 demonstrate that pornography consumption negatively impacts the brain.

Despite a 2018 Gallup poll reporting that 43 percent of Americans think pornography is morally acceptable, research is revealing its harmful effects on individuals and families. In 2002 the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers reported that 56 percent of divorce cases involved one person having “an obsessive interest in pornographic websites.” Since 2016, 11 states have passed resolutions declaring pornography a public health crisis.

 “Create in me a Clean Heart: A Pastoral Response to Pornography” discusses Church teaching on sexuality, the human person and chastity and explains why pornography is sinful and harmful. It also covers the effects of pornography on the culture and individuals.

“The Church’s teaching on the harm and sinfulness of pornography is grounded in the greater ‘yes’ or affirmation of the inviolable dignity of the human person revealed fully in Christ and the gift of human sexuality and marriage in God’s plan. When the Church follows the Lord in upholding the truth of the human person, this involves rejecting anything that would harm that truth,” the bishops wrote. “In our duty as pastors and shepherds to proclaim Christ, we must state clearly that all pornography is immoral and harmful and using pornography may lead to other sins, and possibly, even crimes.”

The statement especially encourages parents to be cautious about media in the home. “Be vigilant about the technology you allow into your home and be sensitive to the prevalence of sexual content in even mainstream television and film and the ease by which it comes through the Internet and mobile devices,” the bishops wrote.

Other portions of the document contain messages of mercy specifically addressed to various groups of people impacted by pornography, including: victims of the industry, those who produce it, those who use it, and those who have been hurt by their spouse’s use of pornography.

The USCCB has compiled a list of resources for those struggling with pornography addiction and their families.

To learn more about Covenant Eyes, including resources for families and individuals, visit www.covenanteyes.com.

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