My Dear Fellow Priests and Deacons:
We live in a culture where pornography is everywhere and readily available. Some rightly judge that pornographic activity in our society has reached epidemic proportions. However, that does not mean — that cannot mean — that this is some form of victimless action that can be ignored or excused.
The viewing of ANY type of pornography is wrong and immoral. It involves everyone — the viewer, those being viewed and those who have anything to do with its availability. It is an egregious act of exploitation and degrades and destroys the God-given dignity of the human person. There is no such thing as “consenting adults” or “my personal business” when it comes to the evil of pornography. It is addictive. It destroys. No one is immune from this plague — NO ONE — no woman, no man, no teenager, no child and, yes, no clergy. The use of pornography by clergy violates the promises we made to God at our ordination.
The culture of adult pornography is a culture that also creates child pornography. It is one and the same. I cannot state it more strongly.
Viewing child pornography is a criminal act for which society will hear no excuse, accept no extenuating circumstances or grant any mercy. It is criminal in the eyes of society; it is criminal in the eyes of the church.
In society, viewing child pornography means imprisonment; in the church, viewing child pornography means destruction of a lifetime’s vocation.
We have all become aware of the great pain associated with pornography by the Jan. 2 sentencing of Father Sorensen. His sentencing to eight years and one month in prison, $25,000 in fines and five years probation once his imprisonment is completed are together a clear and graphic warning of how serious is the viewing of child pornography. Moreover, as the Holy See has made it absolutely clear, the viewing of child pornography will result in dismissal from the clerical state.
Today and every day I urge you to pray for all victims of pornography, especially for the children who are the victims of child pornography worldwide. Their pain cries to the heavens for justice.
At the same time, I urge your prayers for all who are trapped in the web of pornography and those affected by it, particularly the families that have been destroyed by it. I also urge your prayers for Father Sorensen.
As we move forward, may we be rededicated to rooting out this evil from our society.
Grateful for our belief that “Nothing is Impossible with God,” I am,
Your brother in Christ,
Most Reverend David A. Zubik
Bishop of Pittsburgh
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