Cardinal George Addresses Threat of Pornography

Industry Destroying Lives and Souls, He Says

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CHICAGO, DEC. 20, 2002 ( Statistics showing pornography to be a $10 billion industry may be seriously underestimating the scope of the problem.

While a 1998 study by Forrester Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts, estimated that the industry generates $10 billion a year, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, any dollar figure can only be an estimate, in a business where few companies are public and new providers continually appear.

Furthermore, most official sources would tend to underestimate the scope of the industry, by focusing exclusively on hard-core pornography.

In a recent column, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, while agreeing that “[t]he production and sale of pornography is a highly profitable business,” pointed out that “[m]ildly pornographic material can be found in newspapers and TV programs. Advertising often exploits the human body. Many songs and music videos are designed to arouse people sexually. Most recently, the Internet has begun to furnish a steady supply of pornographic images.”

CBS Market Watch reports that Web users subscribing to online pornography sites paid as much as $800 million this year.

Dick Thornburgh and Herbert Lin, authors of the book “Youth, Pornography and the Internet,” wrote that the industry in the United States generates as much as $1 billion total, including Web site advertisements, product sales and age-verification services, according to the Market Watch report.

While Cardinal George referred to pornography as “one of the great sources of disrespect for human flesh and an increasingly prevalent source of temptation,” he was quick to point out both social and spiritual consequences of the pornography explosion.

“The studies that are available show that the use of pornography tends eventually to lead to sexually aggressive action towards others,” the cardinal wrote. “The sexual abuse of minors is often prepared by a predator’s showing a child pornographic films or pictures.”

Perhaps even more tragic are the effects of pornography on the soul.

“Pornography separates flesh from spirit,” Cardinal George continued. “It destroys the personal modesty that protects human intimacy and that allows men and women to grow in mutual respect. It frees lust from moral scruple and from the control of conscience, and it becomes easily addictive. It isolates those addicted to it. It subverts family life and personal integrity.”

He contrasted the “great sadness [which] pervades the life of someone addicted to pornography” with the “joy [which] is the sign of God’s presence in our lives.”

The archbishop of Chicago offered Our Lady as “the image of our destiny as creatures whom God calls now to live with him in harmony, without the sadness of sin, and whom God assures that ‘in our flesh we shall see God,’ [a] high destiny [which] is destroyed when someone is given over to lust.”

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