Pope Francis has warned seminarians in Rome of the dangers of online pornography, calling it a temptation that “weakens the priestly heart”.
The pontiff respond at length to a wide range of questions from priests and seminarians during a meeting at the Vatican on Monday. He discussed reconciling science and faith and trying to live virtuously as one struggles with personal shortcomings.
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When asked about how digital and social media should be best used to “share the joy of being Christians”, the pope cautioned against obsessively watching the news and listening to music that distracts from one’s work before broaching a more carnal risk.
“And on this [subject], there’s also another thing that you know well: digital pornography,” he said, according to the transcript of the question and answer session released by the Vatican on Wednesday.
“Each of you think if you’ve had the experience or had the temptation of digital pornography. It’s a vice that so many people have, so many laymen, so many laywomen and even priests and nuns,” Francis said.
“And I’m not just talking about criminal pornography like child abuse, where you see live cases of abuse – that’s already degeneracy – but of the more ‘normal’ pornography,” he added.
The Jesuit pope has condemned pornography before, most recently in June, when he called it “a permanent attack on the dignity of men and women”, saying it should be declared a “threat to public health”.
Francis advised his audience to delete pornographic material from cell phones “so you won’t have temptation in your hand”.
“The devil enters from there,” he warned. Ït weakens the priestly heart.”