Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
One of the principles of Catholic social teaching is “life and dignity of the human person.” This principle recognizes that every person is created in the image and likeness of God. We are all imbued with a sacred dignity that compels us to strive for holiness and treat others with respect.
There are many issues, however, that threaten and undermine our God-given dignity. One issue of growing concern is pornography. It promotes a distorted view of sexuality and the human person, it can lead to addiction and abuse, and it creates unhealthy environments for spouses and children.
In addition to being immoral, pornography has become a public health crisis because of its pervasiveness and the ease with which it can be accessed through computers, smartphones and other devices. Research indicates that the age of first exposure to pornography for boys is 8 years old.
The U.S. bishops published a statement a few years ago titled “Create in Me a Clean Heart: A Pastoral Response to Pornography.” The statement notes that “the use of pornography by anyone in the home deprives the home of its role as a safe haven and has negative effects throughout a family’s life and across generations.”
On March 2-3, the parishes of our diocese will observe Safe Haven Sunday, an initiative to raise awareness about the harmful impacts of pornography and how families can make their homes a safe haven for everyone. This observance will give pastors an opportunity to address the issue from the pulpit and provide helpful resources to parishioners.
For anyone struggling with the issue of pornography, I want you to know that the Church is here to help and support you.
Christ offers mercy, hope and forgiveness to anyone who wants to be free from pornography’s harmful effects. Please feel free to talk to your pastor or another parish leader about this issue. You can find valuable resources from our diocesan Office of Marriage and Family at: omf.stcdio.org/pornography.
Ministries supporting our lives
I also want to take this opportunity to ask for your support for the 2019 Bishop’s Annual Appeal. You will hear more about the appeal during announcement weekend Feb. 9-10 and commitment weekend Feb. 16-17.
Every gift to the appeal helps to support ministries in our diocese that are at the core of our Church’s mission. These include vocations, Catholic education, faith formation, marriage preparation, family life, pastoral planning, multicultural ministries, ministry to the divorced and the TV Mass for the homebound. The appeal also helps to fund our Regional Ministry Gatherings, a new initiative to help parishes address their priorities and provide networking and educational opportunities for parish staff and volunteers.
You can read more about the appeal and how it benefits the people and parishes of our diocese in the February edition of The Central Minnesota Catholic magazine. I ask you to please consider a gift to the appeal in support of these ministries, which make a positive difference in the lives of so many people.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
+Donald J. Kettler
Bishop of Saint Cloud