Recently, lawmakers in Florida (and other states) have declared that pornography is a public health risk and statistics show that about 30 percent of people are exposed to pornography before the age of 12. The Catholic Church in west Central Florida is responding to this crisis that dehumanizes women and children and normalizes violence.
Bishop Gregory Parkes has designated February 23, 2020 as Safe Haven Sunday, which means parishes in the Diocese of St. Petersburg will set aside time to address the pervasive problem of pornography and its devastating effects on marriages and families. This is the Diocese’s 2nd Safe Haven Sunday and the goal is to make each home a safe haven from pornography. The focus this year is: Helping Parents Navigate Online Exposure.
According to the Florida bill passed in 2018, pornography can exacerbate mental and physical illnesses and promote deviant, problematic or dangerous behaviors. It is especially urgent that kids, teens and the population of Florida are protected from the material, the bill suggests, acknowledging the need for “prevention, research, and policy change” on the issue.
“Pornography is detrimental to both the physical and spiritual life of each individual and the greater community. 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,” said Bishop Gregory Parkes.
The Diocese of St. Petersburg is partnering with Covenant Eyes, a company committed to creating faith-based resources and tools to prevent exposure to pornography and overcome pornography use and addiction. They will offer resources, available in English and Spanish, that are focused on education and prevention, such as books, prayer cards and software to filter out pornography and practical tips to create safer digital environments.
It is also hoped that the resources provided on Safe Haven Sunday will both encourage and teach all individuals and families dealing with the effects of pornography that loving support is available.
The idea for Safe Haven Sunday was inspired by the U.S. Bishop’s November 2015 statement, “Create in Me a Clean Heart: A Pastoral Response to Pornography” and the theme is Equipping the Family, Safeguarding Children.
Further resources to combat pornography, including a list of counselors who identify themselves as helping people recover from this addiction, can be found at www.dosp.org/freedom-from-porn.
Safe Haven Sunday is part of Freedom From Pornography, an initiative of the Diocese of St. Petersburg that started in 2016 to combat the growing problem of pornography that has harmed so many individuals and families because of its distorted view of the human person and sexuality. Since then, educational events and training programs have been held to equip the faithful to protect themselves and seek assistance and healing.