Snare of Internet porn

Question: Is viewing pornography on the Internet a mortal sin? What is a good method to get away from what I know in my heart is wrong?  

Name withheld, via email

Answer: Of its nature, the viewing of pornography is a mortal sin. As with any mortal sin, one’s culpability (blameworthiness) is affected by how freely one consents to the act, and the degree to which one knows and understands the gravity of the evil involved. 

Internet pornography presents a very serious temptation to many and many pastoral challenges for the Church. Today, increasing numbers of people compulsively view this sinful material, and many are outright addicted to Internet pornography. 

As any confessor or pastor will be able to attest, large numbers approaching the confessional and counseling are quite “stuck” in Internet pornography. Many have seen their relationships and marriages greatly harmed, and some even end up with criminal charges related to the viewing of pornographic images of minors. 

Addiction to pornography is a slippery slope that leads to increasingly debased and degrading imagery. Pornography is indeed a snare, which lures its victims with promises of momentary delights, only to leave them quickly hungry for more. This is due to the increasingly insatiable lust that it ignites. 

One of the more effective remedies that has emerged recently is a system of accountability, wherein one’s Internet activities are monitored and recorded, and a daily report is sent to someone of the pornography addict’s choice. This “sponsor” reviews the list and holds the addict accountable. 

Certainly, too, filters can be of some help, to prevent tempting materials from appearing in the first place. Sadly though, many addicts know their way around such filters. 

Finally, this salutary reminder: Nothing we do on the Internet is private. When we are on the Internet, we are out in public, and our browsing habits are not hard to discover for those who might wish to know.  

Internet pornography is a grave sin that causes great harm, and it is highly addictive to many people. The Scriptures warn us to flee fornication (see 1 Cor 6:18). One does well to heed this prescription in a particular way related to Internet pornography. 

Chores on Sunday

Question: My Saturday was busy, and I ended up folding laundry on Sunday. Is this a violation of the Third Commandment?  

Name withheld, via email

Answer: As a general rule, there is a precept that we refrain “from engaging in work or activities that hinder the worship owed to God, the joy proper to the Lord’s Day, the performance of the works of mercy, and the appropriate relaxation of mind and body” (Catechism No. 2185). 

That said, we also do well to avoid excessive legalism, which Jesus taught against when he said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mk 2:27). 

Hence, while one might ordinarily seek to avoid folding laundry on a Sunday, such activity is not intrinsically wrong. Perhaps one finds such an activity relaxing in the company of other family members. Perhaps, too, it is an act of charity that helps the family to be prepared for the week ahead. 

Msgr. Charles Pope is the pastor of Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian in Washington, D.C., and writes for the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., blog at blog.adw.org. Send questions to Pastoral Answers, Our Sunday Visitor, 200 Noll Plaza, Huntington, IN 46750 or to msgrpope@osv.com. Letters must be signed, but anonymity may be requested.