Tag Archives: USCCB

The neurological impact of pornography

January 21, 2015



I came across a great article by Daniel Spadaro today and I just wanted to share a bit of it with you. This is found on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website in conjunction with the 9 Days for Life campaign. He writes:

“Pornography is believed to function like a ‘drug’ that stimulates the brain. Neuroscientists point to three fundamental effects that addiction has on the brain: 1) ‘desensitization,’ a numbing of the brain’s ability to experience pleasure; 2) ‘sensitization,’ an increased sensitivity to triggers and memories related to the addictive behavior; and, 3) ‘hypofrontality,’ the reduced activity of the frontal brain, decreasing impulse control and creating a negative mood. These effects remind us that pornography robs our joy, and where there is little joy, there is often never enough pleasure.

Based on recent brain imaging studies, behavioral addictions—like gambling, food, and Internet gaming—have been found to meet the above three criteria for causing changes in brain circuitry. They are related to pornography addiction in that they are all behavioral/process addictions, as opposed to chemical addictions. Internet pornography possesses characteristics very similar to Internet gaming addiction, and could arguably be more potent, as the object of compulsion is sexual arousal. This explains why some who are trying to break their addiction to pornography report having the same type of physical ‘withdrawal’ symptoms that are experienced by those breaking an addiction to drugs or alcohol.”

(Daniel Spadaro, LPC, CSAT, a licensed professional counselor and certified sex addiction therapist, is founder of Imago Dei Counseling in Colorado Springs. He is a regular columnist for the Colorado Catholic Herald. […]
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Pornography’s Pain to Families

June 14, 2012


Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Pornography is all around us; on the internet, within pages of magazines, displayed in store windows, popping up on search engines, sung about in music, and touted in best selling novels like 50 Shades of Grey. (Please read my blog, Pornography in our Face.) It’s a scourge that commits violence against the dignity of the human person, causing the user to view people as commodities or instruments for their own pleasure. It draws focus away from one’s family life and relationship with God and sets a destructive example to children. It leaves a void in the soul of the viewer, and gnaws at the family, causing deep wounds.

Easy Access

“Okay,” you might say, “I know porn is bad, but do very many people get hooked?”

Yes. Some estimates put porn use among churchgoing men at 50 percent, a figure that differs little from use among the adult male population at large. The Family Research Council’s summary on the effects of pornography states that men and women use porn differently. Men are more than six times as likely to view pornography as females, and more likely to spend more time looking at it. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) states in an article called Women and Online Pornography that one-third of all visitors to adult websites are female, and 17 percent of women are addicted to porn.

Fr. Michael Miller, pastor of the Church of St. Michael and St. Mary’s Catholic Church–both in Stillwater, Minnesota–told me:

“Pornography is really a crisis. The ease of availability makes this problem far greater than ever before.”

Dr. Patrick Carnes, who in 1983 first advanced the idea that a person could become addicted to sex, calls the addiction to Internet pornography “the crack cocaine of sexual addiction.” Like crack, it doesn’t take long for an Internet porn user to become hooked–often a matter of just a few weeks. And like crack, habitual viewing of online porn creates an intense cycle of addiction that is extremely difficult to break without expert assistance. There are no age controls for X-rated websites, and no need to register a credit card. Gail Dines, author of  Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality (2010), argues that boys access pornography on average at age 11. Often, the first time a child sees this disturbing stuff is by accident.

Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger has warned that on his popular site porn comes up automatically on some searches, even if the search topics are apparently unrelated. For example, a search for “clothespins” or “jumping ball” reveals explicit sexual images. “I will continue to raise enough noise on the issue that we will, I hope, force them to make a choice,” he told LifeSiteNews. “Either they will explain very clearly that they are not for children, or, alternatively, they will install a filter.” Sanger warns that one of the site’s primary uses is actually for viewing pornography, and despite the outcry for content filters, none have been implemented. According to Wikipedia traffic statistics, the majority of the site’s most frequently viewed pages are explicitly pornographic.

(Gosh, kids are surrounded by so much smut these days, that unfortunately it’s becoming acceptable in many circles. Before we know it, a young man will ask a porn star to prom. Oh–wait! That has already happened here in Minnesota.)

Horrendously hurting marriages 

Pornography undermines marriage and is one of the factors that threaten social stability. It distorts an individual’s concept of the nature of conjugal relations. Fr. Miller explained:

“Pornography is hurting families in so many ways. Husbands become withdrawn and add new and unrealistic expectations on their wives after committing adultery in their hearts with other women. They also become very discouraged with themselves because of their inability to stop the pattern. Even if they get away from the actual pornography, it is still in their memories and imaginations and this can take a very long time to get under control.”

A friend of mine who was going through a divorce told me, “Pornography ruined our marriage. Kevin’s  addiction (name changed) made it impossible for me to please him. I was never good enough.” According to Dr. Patrick F. Fagan, author of The Family Research Council’s summary on the effects of pornography:

“The wives of pornography users also develop deep psychological wounds, commonly reporting feelings of betrayal, loss, mistrust, devastation, and anger in response to the discovery or disclosure of a partner’s pornographic online sexual activity. Wives can begin to feel unattractive or sexually inadequate and may become severely depressed when they realize their husbands view pornography. The distress level in wives may be so high as to require clinical treatment for trauma.”

Often, people who view such vulgarity on a regular basis believe marriage is sexually confining; have diminished belief in the importance of marital faithfulness; and have increasing doubts about the value of marriage as an essential social institution. This depreciates the importance they place on having good relationships within their own families.

In a Pastoral Letter by Bishop Paul S. Loverde titled, Bought with a Price: Pornography and the Attack on the Living Temple of God, he states:

“When family members turn to pornography in a distorted thirst for intimacy, they turn against and in some measure reject their commitment to their family. By doing this, they commit violence against the relationships which define their own vocation.”

How does porn injure children?

Pornography use among parents often causes young ones to face challenges of a broken home among other threats.

Many kids are traumatized when they walk in on a parent who is viewing perverted content, or they become disgusted with Daddy or Mommy for having it in his or her life. Kids who are around pornographic content are more sensual. Teens who use porn themselves have significantly increased sexual intercourse with non-romantic friends, and are more likely to take part in the so-called “hook-up” culture. Exposure to pornography can also be a significant factor in teenage pregnancy.

And I’d be remiss not to mention that children often are at danger if they are around people who use pornographic material. Law enforcement authorities have noted that many adult porn consumers will eventually move to child pornography–putting children in their midst at risk.

Fr. Miller told me:

“Pornography is especially damaging to young men whose images of sexuality are perverted [after viewing pornography] and are not in conformity with God’s will, thus damaging their ability to become good fathers and husbands, even for those who are truly trying to break this with confession, prayer, and practical means, it is very difficult and takes perseverance.”

But there is healing and freedom for those caught in the snare of pornography addiction.

Recovery and help:

Many professionals believe that because porn addiction has a number of the same causes and effects as adultery, the treatment and counseling are pretty much the same. Where there is a spiritual component to the recovery, there is great success.  The King’s Men, a lay apostolate whose mission is to help males rise above the lustful pandemic of porn, teaches that through humility, accountability and sacramental grace a man can find freedom from sexual sin and addiction.

Bishop Loverde says:

“We stand at a threshold – either we can continue to allow this plague to spread with fewer and fewer checks, or we can take concrete steps to uproot it in our lives, our families, our neighborhoods and our culture. A free people can combat the tremendous moral, social and spiritual danger of pornography with great courage. My fervent prayer is that Catholics, other Christians, and all people of good will understand this threat, confront it and facilitate true healing.”

Please refer to:



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5 reasons why I like the new Blessing for the Child in the Womb

May 19, 2012


This new blessing was originally developed in March 2008 by the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities for inclusion in the Book of Blessings and Bendicional, and further refined by the Committee on Divine Worship and the body of Bishops. The introduction to the rite observes that the blessing of an unborn child “sustains the parents by imparting grace and comfort in time of concern and need, unites the parish in prayer for the unborn child, and fosters respect for human life within society. (According to Fr. Z’s blog)

“We hope the use of this blessing will provide not only support and God’s blessing for expectant parents and their child in the womb, but also another effective witness to the sanctity of human life from the first moment of conception,” said Archbishop Gregory Aymond, chairman of the Committee on Divine Worship of the USCCB.

I think it will do just that, and here’s 5  reasons why:

1. It asks God to bless the unborn baby

A few years ago when I was pregnant with twins at age 42, I had what was dubbed a “triple high-risk pregnancy.” My concern was primarily for the identical babies, and I wanted us to be blessed right away. I was working for the Archdiocese at the time in the Office for Marriage, Family and Life. A priest from Africa was down the hall, and he gave us a lovely blessing off of the top of his head. When I (notice I said “I”) received the official blessing from our church, it was geared more toward me and not the babes in the womb. A few months later, Archbishop Neinstedt asked our office to review this new Rite for the Child in the Womb, and I was honored to do so. I was thrilled to see that it not only asked God to bless the unborn child, but also to give him/her constant protection, a healthy birth, and to comfort the mother in all her anxiety. I really needed all of those requests!

2. It has a blessing for the mother 

You will notice that this blessing also asks for the blessing of the unborn baby (as stated in #1).

God, author of all life,

bless, we pray, this unborn child;

give constant protection

and grant a healthy birth

that is the sign of our rebirth one day

into the eternal rejoicing of heaven.


Lord, who have brought to this woman

the wondrous joy of motherhood,

grant her comfort in all anxiety

and make her determined

to lead her child along the ways of salvation.

3. It has a blessing for the father

Isn’t it great that Daddy can be a part of this blessing? He needs all the Grace he can get, too!

Lord of all ages,

who have singled out this man

to know the grace and pride of fatherhood,

grant hin courage in this new responsibility,

and make him an example of justice and truth

for this child.

4. It has a blessing for the family

Siblings, grandparents, aunties, cousins…they all play an important role in forming this child. How nice for them to receive a blessing! (Plus, this shows the brothers and sisters–who are often left out– how important they are!)

Lord, endow this family

with sincere and enduring love

as they prepare to welcome this child into

their midst.


Lord, you have put into the hearts of all men and

women of  good will

a great awe and wonder at the gift of new life;

fill the parish community

with faithfulness to the teachings of the Gospel

and new resolve to share

in the spiritual formnation of this child in Christ

our savior,

who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

5. It can be used within the Mass or outside of it

I told a priest that this was a nice feature because sometimes a woman hasn’t told anyone that she is expecting yet. If the blessing is done during the Mass, and it is done in a general style (meaning that she doesn’t have to stand up or go to the altar), then she doesn’t call attention to herself. Having a blessing of a baby in the womb during Mass is a great way to witness to the congregation, and encourage people to embrace Life.

Having a blessing outside of Mass (hospital, home, chapel…) is nice, because the whole family could be a part of it, and it could offer a different type of privacy if needed.

(See whole text at the USCCB website)

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6 Things Everyone Should Know About the HHS Mandate

February 7, 2012


It’s frustrating.

I’m talking about President Obama’s decision to force employers (yes–religious institutions too), to provide health insurance coverage for contraception–including those that cause abortions.

According to The Hill:

“In a piece over the weekend, the Washington Post columnist, a fan of Obama, wrote that the administration ‘utterly botched’ the issue and ‘threw his progressive Catholic allies under the bus,’ giving more ammunition to those in the church who aim to derail the new healthcare law.”

The Obama Administration has said it will work on the rules but has not stated that it will back down, despite pressure from christian organizations and the Catholic Church. The bishops estimate that 70 percent of parish priests criticize the HHS rules to their congregations because the mandates do not embrace life according to Natural law.

I thought you would appreciate reading the USCCB’s points listed below. Thanks to Sharon Wilson, Respect Life Coordinator for the Archdiocese, for sending this my way!

USCCB Media Blog


 Six Things Everyone Should Know About the HHS Mandate

1. The mandate does not exempt Catholic charities, schools, universities, or hospitals. These institutions are vital to the mission of the Church, but HHS does not deem them “religious employers” worthy of conscience protection, because they do not “serve primarily persons who share the[ir] religious tenets.” HHS denies these organizations religious freedom precisely because their purpose is to serve the common good of society—a purpose that government should encourage, not punish.

2. The mandate forces these institutions and others, against their conscience, to pay for things they consider immoral. Under the mandate, the government forces religious insurers to write policies that violate their beliefs; forces religious employers and schools to sponsor and subsidize coverage that violates their beliefs; and forces religious employees and students to purchase coverage that violates their beliefs.

3. The mandate forces coverage of sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs and devices as well as contraception. Though commonly called the “contraceptive mandate,” HHS’s mandate also forces employers to sponsor and subsidize coverage of sterilization. And, by including all drugs approved by the FDA for use as contraceptives, the HHS mandate includes drugs that can induce abortion, such as “Ella,” a close cousin of the abortion pill RU-486.

4. Catholics of all political persuasions are unified in their opposition to the mandate. Catholics who have long supported this Administration and its healthcare policies have publicly criticized HHS’s decision, including columnists E.J. Dionne, Mark Shields, and Michael Sean Winters; college presidents Father John Jenkins and Arturo Chavez; and Daughter of Charity Sister Carol Keehan, president and chief executive officer of the Catholic Health Association of the United States.

5. Many other religious and secular people and groups have spoken out strongly against the mandate. Many recognize this as an assault on the broader principle of religious liberty, even if they disagree with the Church on the underlying moral question. For example, Protestant Christian, Orthodox Christian, and Orthodox Jewish groups–none of which oppose contraception–have issued statements against the decision. The Washington Post, USA Today, N.Y. Daily News, Detroit News, and other secular outlets, columnists, and bloggers have editorialized against it.

6. The federal mandate is much stricter than existing state mandates. HHS chose the narrowest state-level religious exemption as the model for its own. That exemption was drafted by the ACLU and exists in only 3 states (New York, California, Oregon). Even without a religious exemption, religious employers can already avoid the contraceptive mandates in 28 states by self-insuring their prescription drug coverage, dropping that coverage altogether, or opting for regulation under a federal law (ERISA) that pre-empts state law. The HHS mandate closes off all these avenues of relief.


You may want to read previous blogs I’ve posted on this issue: http://catholichotdish.com/embracing-life/5-facts-you-didnt-know-about-obamacare/ and http://catholichotdish.com/embracing-life/pay-for-peoples-contraception-no-thanks/

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Bishops elect Archbishop Nienstedt, Bishop Pates committee chairs

November 14, 2011


The USCCB is reporting the election results out of Baltimore today. Archbishop Nienstedt and former St. Paul/Minneapolis Auxiliary Bishop Richard Pates currently of Des Moines, Iowa have been elected committee chairs.


Read more: Archbishop Nienstedt chairman-elect of the Committee on Doctrine

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10 benefits of Confession

July 12, 2011


Priest hearing a Confession

Sr. Mary Ann Walsh, Director of Media Relations at the USCCB, compiled a list of 10 benefits you’ll receive when participating in the Sacrament of Penance.

Here’s my favorite:

2. Housekeeping for the soul. It feels good to be able to start a clean life all over again. Like going into a sparkling living room in your home, it’s nice when clutter is removed – even if it’s your own.

Nothing quite compares to the feeling you receive after having made a good Confession.

Read the whole list here.

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