Sunday, October 11, 2009

Bishop Lahey Affair and the Question of Catholic Priesthood and Celibacy -- 3

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Catholic Church Teaching on Pornography

The English word pornography comes from two Greek words porne (prostitute) and graphos (writing), meaning writing about prostitutes. In the present day, pornography means writing, pictures and films intended primarily for sexual arousal.

We use below excerpts from the article "What does the Church teach regarding pornography?", published in Straight Answers (Vol. II) by Father William P. Saunders, Ph.D., 2003, pp. 260-261:

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC#2337) defines pornography as "removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties."

Pornography is a billion-dollar business throughout the world. They come in the forms of written materials (articles, booklets, books and magazines), photos, video films, movies, and television programmes.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC#2354) cites three reasons why pornography is wrong and sinful: First, pornography offends against the virtue of chastity. Each Christian is called to lead a chaste life, each Christian must respect the sanctity of his own human sexuality, which involves the integration of his physical and spiritual being. He must also respect the holy state of marriage. Pornography leads to the spiritual disintegration of the person and may lead to illicit sexual acts. Second, pornography offends the dignity of the participants (actors in photos and films, sellers of these items and the public). Each one is exploited himself or exploits others in some way for personal pleasure or gain. In all, the dignity of the human being -- whether the person posing, the person producing, the person distribuiting, or the person enjoying -- is debased. Finally, those who engage in pornography immerse themselves in a fantasy world, withdrawing from reality. While genuine love always involves self-giving for the good of others, pornography entices a person to withdraw into a selfish world of perverted fantasy which may later be acted out to the detriment of oneself and others. This problem has increased dramatically since the internet offers "virtual reality" sexual interaction.

Father Saunders adds that pornography may become like a spiritual cancer that corrupts the person. He mentions of Dr. Victor Kline (1996) who posited four progressive effects of pornography: (1) Addiction: Viewing or reading pornography gradually leads to addiction and the person loses free control over his own behaviour. (2) Escalation: From soft pornography (depicting nudity and sexual touching), the person progressively moves on to harder pornography (portraying sexual intercourse) to attain the same level of sensation and arousal. (3) Desensitization: Then the user of pornography is no longer morally sensitive to the shocking, illegal, repulsive, perverted, or immoral quality of the material, but instead views it as acceptable and begins to look upon others as objects. (4) Acting Out: Finally, the person's fantasizing becomes overt or no-more-hidden behaviour. He acts out his fantasy in real life.

To know more on the Church's teaching on pornography, visit Pornography and Violence in the Communication Media.

The Latest on Bishop Lahey Affair

The CBC reports that, on September 15, 2009, when Bishop Lahey landed in Ottawa airport, border services agent Venessa Fairey inspected his passport at her counter. She noticed from his passport that the bishop had made several trips to Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Spain and Germany since 2005. These countries have international notoriety for facilitating and producing child pornography.

The agent then asked the bishop if he had any lap-top computer, but he hesitated before replying "Yes." Then the bishop was flagged for a second inspection for the following reasons: 1) He was a male travelling alone; 2) He had travelled extensively to source countries for child pornography; 3) He had evasive responses to questions pertaining to his possession of electronic media; 4) There were changes in his vocal tone during specific questions. 5) He avoided eye contact during specific questions.

On inspection of the computer, a second border services agent, viewed three images on Bishop Lahey's computer and arrested him for smuggling prohibited material into Canada. During a later interview with an Ottawa police officer, Lahey said he was attracted to males aged 20 to 21.

Since, at the time, the officers could not determine the ages of the males in the images, the bishop was released unconditionally, but his electronic devices were seized. Later another search revealed five more sexually explicit images, which featured males aged eight to 10 years old. Then the police obtained a search warrant for Bishop Lahey's laptop, four memory sticks, three memory cards, two cellphones and a portable hand-held device.

On September 25, he was charged with possessing and importing child pornography and on next day he announced his resignation as the bishop of Antigonish. He turned himself to Ottawa police on October 1 and was released on $9,000 bail the same day. His next court appearance is on November 4.

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