By Amanda Hudson, News editor
BATAVIA—From hearing confessions, Msgr. Aaron Brodeski has known for many years that pornography does not bypass Catholics.
They can become just as addicted as anyone else, even if they are regular churchgoers.
“Kids ages 11 to 17 are the highest consumers of pornography, according to recent statistics,” he said on Dec. 11, shortly after hosting a morning meeting and video for parents at his parish, Holy Cross.
Showing the video “Unfiltered: Equipping Parents for an Ongoing Conversation about Online Pornography” is step eight of a 10-step timeline that the priest called “Introducing Internet Safety in a Parish Setting.”
Resources in Battle Against Pornography Addiction
�–� Candeo — This secular predecessor to the Catholic “Reclaim Sexual Health” provides the brain-science of change without the integration of Catholic theology. Website: http://candeobehaviorchange.com/
About 60 people attended at least one of the first five of six meetings he hosted at the parish.
The steps are geared to “give people time to warm up to the idea of attending” the workshop, but the priest has found that the subject “is a hard sell. It’s one of those topics that most people don’t want to deal with. I’m not sure if (the timeline) is the best approach; it’s just the approach I took.”
Msgr. Brodeski says that being the pastor of parishes with schools made him “aware of the importance of keeping a safe browsing experience in the school.”
Young kids are seeing porn, Msgr. Brodeski says, calling it a “fishhook” that grabs them. “Even if they believe in their heads everything our Church has taught, their bodies believe what the porn culture is teaching them.”
With pornography readily available on cell phones, he says, “the problem is they are (viewing it in secret), and parents don’t know.”
When he listened to a CD called “Detox” from Lighthouse Catholic Media, he says, it “deepened my conviction of the problem. I think as long as I’ve been hearing confessions, it’s been on my mind that something more has to be done” in parishes to address the problem of pornography.
Researching the topic and talking with staff at companies called Covenant Eyes and Reclaim Sexual Health, he says, “brought me to a point where I knew we should start to do something.”
That “something” began with Msgr. Brodeski’s self-education on the problem and solutions.
“The bottom line is this,” Msgr. Brodeski says. “The brain, created by God, is made in such a way that when a husband and wife come together in an intimate relationship, chemicals are released (in the brain) that create a deep bond.
“Those chemicals can be distorted,” he explains, “when porn is looked at — especially the graphic sex acts that are out there.”
The brain, he continues “starts to release ... endorphins and (other) chemicals (and) creates a high. It leads to a false sense of sexual union, and it becomes an addiction.”
The porn addiction, like other addictions, “creates loneliness and isolation and confusion. It makes it difficult for (addicts) to look at the opposite sex in a normal way. They walk around feeling guilt and shame. It has a huge effect on marriages. We’re starting to see it already, and it’s going to get worse,” he says.
“What I see as a priest is that people just can’t break out of it.”
To arm parents to help steer their children away from the dangers, Msgr. Brodeski wrote a bulletin article introducing the topic.
The parish obtained 1,500 copies of the “Detox” CD and “stuffed our bulletins,” he says.
He continued to place short blurbs in the bulletins and parish newsletters and advertised the Internet Safety workshops there.
As he planned to hold the meetings, he honed in on some of the information he wanted to share.
“One huge concern is the personal isolation that porn creates. It is such a fake form of intimacy and love, it does the absolute opposite of fulfilling each person’s need for intimacy and love. ... There are great negative effects on people on a social, personal, family and relational level.
“It is just a lie, a false presentation (of love and intimacy) … Many, if not most, kids are starting to get addicted.”
Parents and other adults, he says, “have to break through the original stigma. We have to get comfortable talking about it. We have to realize how much of a threat it is to children.
“Pornography is so pervasive. Our lessons on chastity and Internet safety have to (become) more pervasive. We have to get to them first.”