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US Bishops Preparing to Issue Formal Statement on Pornography

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Conference warns of a "pastoral crisis" brought about by epidemic of smut

The problem with pornography is getting so bad that the Catholic bishops of the United States have commissioned a study about ways to respond to what they are calling a “pastoral crisis.”

The collective body of bishops will vote on a proposed formal statement, “Create in Me a Clean Heart: A Pastoral Response to Pornography,” at the annual Fall General Assembly, November 16–19, in Baltimore. Developed by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth (LMFLY), the document would be the first formal statement issued by the body of bishops focused exclusively on a pastoral response to pornography production and use, according to a press release from the conference. Supplementary resources would be developed to accompany the statement if approved, such as an abridged version and targeted resources for clergy, parents, young people, and so on.

A number of bishops have issued pastoral letters on the topic of pornography in their own dioceses, and the USCCB has addressed the topic in various resources, including its 1998 statement Renewing the Mind of the Media: Statement on Overcoming the Exploitation of Sex and Violence in Communications and its 2009 pastoral letter Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan.

“As a response to the pastoral crisis brought about by the production and use of pornography, the formal statement intends to offer a comprehensive treatment of this important topic,” said Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, New York, chairman of the committee that produced the statement. “It is directed primarily at Catholic leaders and parents, though with an eye to all who struggle with or are affected by pornography.”

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