Karl Keating writes in Catholic Answers
One of today’s silent but most deadly “spiritual killers” is pornography—especially Internet pornography. Pornography kills the soul because using it is a mortal sin. It kills marriages because it’s a form of unfaithfulness…It turns love into lust…And it often leads to extra-marital affairs and divorce. And it kills the innocence of children who unintentionally stumble upon it when they’re on the Internet.
Today, pornography is the #1 most downloaded and most viewed category of material on the Internet. According to the Internet Filter Review, the worldwide Internet porn business is a $97 billion-a-year industry—and growing. It’s no wonder. At last count, there were 4.2 million pornographic Web sites, with 420 million pages of pornographic material. (These numbers grow by the hour—because thousands of new sites come online every week.) 43% of all Internet users view porn sites while they’re online.
The estimate is that 72 million people visit porn sites each month. According to Media Metrix, more than 70% of men ages 18 to 34 visit a pornographic site each month. 2.8 billion pornographic e-mails are sent every year. And the number of children being exposed to pornography has skyrocketed due to the Internet.
According to research conducted by the London School of Economics and Political Science, fully 9 out of 10 children from ages 8 and 16 have seen Internet pornography—usually without even intending to. The Internet Filter Review reports that the average age of a child when he is first exposed to Internet pornography is 11 years old.
Of children 15 to 17 years old, 80% have multiple exposures to hard-core Internet pornography. 90% of 8- to 16-year-olds have viewed pornography online—most while doing homework.
In 1996 while battling the ACLU (a major supporter of Internet porn), the United States Department of Justice stated… “Never before in the history of telecommunications media in the United States has so much indecent (and obscene) material been so easily accessible by so many minors in so many American homes with so few restrictions” (U.S. Department of Justice, Post Hearing Memorandum of Points and Authorities, Reno v. ACLU, 929 F. Supp. 824 ).
Internet pornography is truly a plague that has infested our land—and it’s infecting our homes, our families, our churches, and our entire community. According to the National Catholic Register, Fr. Mark Bautista of British Columbia—who has been a pastor of several major parishes—estimates that up to 30% of the men in any given parish are regular viewers of Internet pornography. He said he’s noticed a staggering increase in porn use that coincides with the growth of the Internet. It’s not just among the men of the parish, but the children, too. He routinely hears porn confessions of boys and girls as young as 13.
Christopher West of the Theology of the Body Institute says that at least 80% of Catholic adults have used pornography and that up to 40% of Catholics view porn compulsively. Our apologist friend Jeff Cavins agrees. In his view, 40% of Catholic men and teenage boys are regular porn users.
No wonder they call the Internet “the Web”!