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U.S. Catholic leaders approve new plan to address pornography
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U.S. Catholic leaders have announced plans to address pornography use among church members. - photo by Kelsey Dallas
Catholic leaders adopted a more proactive approach to pornography use during this week's fall assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Attendees at the meeting almost unanimously approved a formal statement, titled "Create in Me a Clean Heart: A Pastoral Response to Pornography," which explores appropriate pastoral responses to the production and use of pornography, according to a USCCB statement.

"So many people including within the Church are in need of Christ's abundant mercy and healing," said Bishop Richard Malone, chairman of the USCCB committee that developed the statement, in a press release. "My hope is that the statement can serve as a foundation and catalyst for increased pastoral attention to this challenge at the national and local level."

"Create in Me a Clean Heart" draws on survey research and Catholic doctrine to explore how pornography can harm users and their families, emphasizing that it interrupts a person's ability to care for his or her romantic partner.

The statement also condemns an increasingly sexualized culture, noting how "video games, music lyrics, clothing and even costumes" are often inappropriate for young people, NBC News reported.

After the USCCB announced the new statement, organizations focused on combatting sexual violence expressed their approval, highlighting how the Catholic Church's leadership around the issue of pornography would be felt beyond faith communities.

"The bishops' statement is critical, because we are facing a public health crisis of pornography, which affects nearly every family in America. This comprehensive, forceful, pastoral statement on the harms of pornography will have a monumental effect on the Church and on all of American society," said Patrick Trueman, president and CEO of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, in a press release from his organization.

"Create in Me a Clean Heart" comes less than a month after church leaders gathered at the Vatican to discuss issues facing modern families, where they focused on the value of responding with compassion and mercy to difficult situations. The new, formalized approach to pornography continues this theme, Crux reported.

The statement is available on the USCCB's website, and additional resources for pastors and parishioners are expected in the coming months.
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