What does the Catholic Church say about pornography?

Article by Dr. Peter C. Kleponis*, first published with the title Pornography and the Catholic Church, on Theporneffect.com.

The church has much to say about pornography. This is because porn injures the dignity of everyone involved – producers and consumers. 

Sexuality is a wonderful gift from God! It is meant to be shared by a husband and wife as an expression of their love which is unitive and can lead to procreation.

Pornography reduces sex to nothing more than a recreational activity where people are simply used for personal pleasure. With pornography, there is no relationship, love, intimacy, responsibility, unity or openness to new life. People are simply treated as objects. It is a disordered use of sexuality, which can hurt people physically, emotionally, relationally and spiritually. Use of pornography is a grave sin. It wounds our relationship with God, which can threaten our eternal salvation.

For married people, pornography use is a form of adultery. For single people, pornography use is a form of fornication. Both of these are serious sins.

Pornography offends against chastity, and there are no reasons to justify its use. It’s important to remember that the Church’s sanction against pornography is not meant to be a way of controlling people or preventing them from enjoying life. Quite to the contrary, it is meant to protect people so they can enjoy a healthy life and live it to the fullest!

An offense against chastity

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, pornography is an offense against chastity:

“Pornography consists in removing real of simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties. It offends against chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other. It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants, since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others. It immerses all who are involves in the illusion of a fantasy world. It is a grave offense. Civil authorities should prevent the production and distribution of pornographic materials.” CCC 2354.

Masturbation most often accompanies pornography use, but even when it does not, it is an offense against chastity:

“Masturbation is the deliberate stimulation of the genital organs in order to derive sexual pleasure. “Both the Magisterium of the Church, in the course of a constant tradition, and the moral sense of the faithful have been in no doubt and have firmly maintained that masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action.” “The deliberate use of sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose.” For here sexual pleasure is sought outside of “the sexual relationship which is demanded by the moral order and in which the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love is achieved.”  CCC 3528.


The Pontifical Council for Social Communications has commented widely on the dangers of pornography use:

  • Pornography in the media is a “violation, through the use of audiovisual techniques, of the right to privacy of the human body.” (Pontifical Council for Social Communications, 1989).
  • You are aiding a billion-dollar criminal enterprise “Production and dissemination of these materials could not continue if there were not a market for them, so those who use such materials not only do moral harm to themselves but contribute to the continuation of a nefarious trade” (11, Pontifical Council for Social Communications).
  • You run the risk of carrying over the attitudes and behavior presented in pornography into your own relationships and may begin to lack reverence and respect for others (13, Pontifical Council for Social Communications).
  • Even so called “soft porn” can have a progressively desensitizing effect, gradually rendering you morally numb and personally insensitive to the rights and dignity of others. Exposure to pornography can be habit forming and lead you to seek increasingly “hard core” and perverse material (14, Pontifical Council for Social Communications).
  • It can interfere with personal moral growth and the development of healthy and mature relationships, especially in marriage and family life, where mutual trust and openness and personal moral integrity are so important. (15, Pontifical Council for Social Communications).
  • When sexual activity and/or pornography is used for personal gratification rather than as an expression of enduring love in marriage, it becomes a factor contributing to the undermining of wholesome family life (16, Pontifical Council for Social Communications).
  • In the worst cases, pornography can act as an inciting or reinforcing agent, a kind of accomplice, in the behavior of dangerous sex offenders – child molesters, rapists and killers (17, Pontifical Council for Social Communications).

Bishops of the Catholic Church have also warned against the dangers of pornography:

  • “The problem with pornography is not that it reveals too much of the person (exposed in the image), but that it reveals too little of the person. The person in the image is reduced to their sexual organs and sexual faculties and is thereby de-personalized.” Bishop Robert Finn. Blessed Are The Pure In Heart: A Pastoral Letter on the Dignity of the Human Person and the Dangers of Pornography, February 21, 2007.
  • “Perhaps worst of all, however, is the damage that pornography does to man’s “template” for the supernatural… How can we understand the supernatural sight God desires for us – i.e. the contemplation of God in the beatific vision – once our natural sight has been damaged and distorted?” Bishop Paul S. Loverde. Bought With A Price : Every Man’s Duty to Protect Himself and His Family From a Pornographic Culture, 2014

The Catholic Church in her infinite wisdom has always viewed sexuality as a beautiful gift that is reserved for marriage. To use sex in any other way corrupts God’s plan and can only lead to heartache.

Do you too want to receive help from heaven to get rid of this addiction? We are here to pray with you and ask Carlo Acutis for his intercession:

Going further:


Dr. Peter C. Kleponis Ph.D. is a Licensed Clinical Therapist and Assistant Director of Comprehensive Counseling Services in West Conshohocken, PA.

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