Pope Francis: Pornography is ‘a threat to public health’

Hannah Brockhaus   By Hannah Brockhaus for CNA


Pope Francis meets members of the Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe (FAFCE) on June 10, 2022 / Vatican Media. See CNA article for full slideshow. 

Vatican City, Jun 10, 2022 / 09:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Friday spoke about the challenges facing families, including threats to human dignity such as pornography and surrogacy.

“We also talk about the scourge of pornography, which is now spread everywhere via the web,” the pope said at the Vatican on June 10.

“It should be denounced as a permanent attack on the dignity of men and women. It is not only a matter of protecting children — an urgent task of the authorities and all of us — but also of declaring pornography a threat to public health,” he told members of a family association network.

Quoting a 2017 speech he gave to a congress on child dignity online, the pope added that “it would be a serious illusion to think that a society in which abnormal consumption of sex on the web is rampant among adults is then capable of effectively protecting minors.”

Family networks, schools, and local communities are crucial to combat pornography and to help heal the wounds of those addicted, he said.

“The dignity of men and women is also threatened,” he continued, “by the inhumane and increasingly widespread practice of ‘womb renting,’ in which women, almost always poor, are exploited, and children are treated as commodities.”

Pope Francis spoke about some of the challenges faced by families in a meeting with members of the Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe (FAFCE).

Pope Francis meets members of the Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe (FAFCE) on June 10, 2022. Vatican Media
Pope Francis meets members of the Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe (FAFCE) on June 10, 2022. Vatican Media

FAFCE is an umbrella organization that gives support to Catholic families and promotes discussion of family policy issues within European institutions and local governments. The group met with Pope Francis before their June 10 conference on the family, held in Rome in advance of the World Meeting of Families 2022.

In his speech, the pope encouraged the pro-family organization to continue its mission during what is “not only an era of change, but a change of epoch.”

It can be a discouraging time for families, he said, “but, with God’s grace, we are called to work with hope and confidence, in effective communion with the Church.”

“The family founded on marriage is, therefore, at the center. It is the first cell of our communities and must be recognized as such, in its generative, unique and indispensable function,” Francis said.

The pope also worried about the difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the “hidden pandemic” of loneliness.

Pope Francis meets members of the Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe (FAFCE) on June 10, 2022. Vatican Media
Pope Francis meets members of the Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe (FAFCE) on June 10, 2022. Vatican Media

“While many families have rediscovered themselves as domestic churches, it is also true that too many families have experienced loneliness, and their relationship with the Sacraments has often become merely virtual,” he noted.

Addressing the topic of the environment, Pope Francis disagreed with a view which holds that children have a negative impact on the world’s ecology.

Quoting a 2021 FAFCE Board Resolution, he said, “the concept of an ‘ecological footprint’ cannot be applied to children, as they are an indispensable resource for the future. Instead, consumerism and individualism must be addressed, by looking to families as the best example of resource optimization.”

“Having children should never be considered a lack of responsibility towards creation or its natural resources,” he quoted.

Pope Francis also spoke about the important example of unity families can give, and how they can work to bring about peace, especially at a time when many families are separated due to the war in Ukraine.

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  1. From Pope St. John Paul II we have this:
    “Each family is a beacon of light which must illumine the Church and the world for the end of this millennium [the twentieth century] and as long as the Lord allows this world to exist” (Almost Biography, EWTN, 1994).

    And from the Christian existentialist, Gabriel Marcel:
    “What it is to belong to a family, and to be attached to it, is something which it seems to me that neither biology nor sociology is capable of probing right to the core; and on the other hand, speaking rather generally, one might say that the family relationship is not one which up to the present has sufficiently engaged the attention of metaphysics” (The Mystery of Being, 1950).

  2. Interesting that Pope Francis brings up surrogacy. I don’t know the statistics but the example I know personally involves two men in a same-sex “marriage”. Seems to be the new way of doing things.

  3. Emile Durkheim, the father of sociology, considered the family a [perhaps the] vital social institution. “Durkheim included the sociology of the family within the area of juridical sociology and the science of moral phenomena” (Bynder). Essay author Bynder cites this in Durkheim on the conjugal family and the dysfunctions of divorce (Herbert Bynder Emile Durkheim and the Sociology of the family in Journal of Marriage and the Family 1969).
    Cardinal Carlo Caffarra with the blessing of John Paul founded the Pope John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family in Rome in 1981. He and others including John Paul II recognized the family as the nucleus of a functional society, and cornerstone of the Church. We’re aware of Francis’ disassembling of the institutions established by John Paul, and the likely reason, the revisionist approach to divorced and remarried outside the Church addressed in Amoris Laetitia [see Fr Thomas Weinandy OFM Cap The American Catholic Church: A Defense in TCT].
    Pope Francis says all the right words except his secularized interpretation of pornography as a health issue, a threat to public health. If we remove the stigma of sin from adultery based on a proportional greater good the family becomes a social good subject to practical judgments more social than religious and less of what Durkheim perceived as a center for moral phenomena. It may seem petty but if you place it in context of many other words and actions it’s evidently part of a trend for worldly relevance rather than declaring who and what we are as disciples of Christ. We cannot influence the world for what is better by becoming it.

  4. Families are the backbone of Planet Earth, our common home. May each and every family be blessed with a happy present and a bright future.

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