By Fr. Bob Sprott, O.F.M.
“So, how long has the pornography been a part of your life . . . ?”
Because the sin of viewing internet porn gets confessed a lot, I find myself asking that question a lot. At St. Peter’s confessions are heard continuously from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and every priest on staff here is in the confessional once or twice a day for an hour and a half each time. And rare, very rare, is the stint in the confessional when I do not hear the sin of pornography (and these days it’s almost always internet pornography) confessed once, and by far the more common experience is to hear it confessed several different times in the course of the hour and a half.
And so to try to see just how serious the porn problem is with the penitent, I will usually ask two questions: the one at the top of the page, and “How often do you access the porn?”
Every man is different (with porn it’s always men) and every story is different, but if you hear the sin often enough and ask these questions often enough, you begin to see patterns and common features, and you begin to appreciate how widespread the problem is. I suspect that if drug addiction or alcoholism were as pervasive as the use of internet porn is, the country would be non-functional; just too many people would be drunk or high for anything to be working right.
The other thing you begin to appreciate as a confessor is just how hard it is to break out of a porn habit. Some penitents have tried repeatedly to break free, tried and failed every time, and they know how hard it is to put it behind them. Others have never really tried, and many of them think that they would be able to throw it off quickly and easily once they buckled down and got serious about it; these, if they do try, are in for an unpleasant surprise, and I try to warn them of this as gently and firmly as I can . . . . (read more)