ORLANDO | In response to the ever-increasing numbers of people becoming addicted to or victims of pornography, Bishop John Noonan designated March 12-13 as Safe Haven Sunday in the Diocese of Orlando. The weekend is set aside for priests and ministry leaders to directly address the societal harms of pornography within the context of the Mass. Faith leaders will discuss the evils of pornography and offer resources to combat it personally, in marriage, and at home with the help of CovenantEyes™ CleanHeart online program.
CovenantEyes™ is a monitoring app that runs on digital devices to help parents and families live free of pornography. Their Clean Heart program offers additional online tools with the same goal.
Noting how different the world is today than when he was growing up, Bishop Noonan said, the most important reason [for Safe Haven Sunday] is to bring awareness to the people. “Pornography has become a big issue in our lives by the fact that pornography is so accessible. We just take out our phone. It is also a danger to our community,” he said. Wishing to offer resources to combat the epidemic, he hopes every parish will pay attention.
The facts confirm his concern. According to statistics compiled by CovenantEyes.com, one out of three Americans seek out pornography at least once per month and 49% of young adults say all or most of their friends use pornography regularly. It also indicated an alarming 55% of married men watch porn at least once per month and 63% of men 18-30 years old view it several times per week. Although the numbers are lower in women, they are not immune.
Because pornography affects the brain and its response to natural intimacy, viewing causes problems in relationships. “Sometimes it really, truly destroys the family and the relationships we have with one another,” Bishop Noonan explained.
Desiring to bring awareness to “the dignity of the person” and our identity as children of God “made in His image and likeness”, the bishop hopes the resources provided will help assist families in creating safe havens in their homes.
Explaining that people confuse love with sex in a virtual world, the bishop noted Safe Haven Sunday offers an opportunity to appropriately address “who we are in our sexuality”. “Sexuality is a gift to be shared in a relationship of two people, as husband and wife,” he said.
Using CovenantEyes™’ program, CleanHeart.online, which was inspired by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) statement in 2015, Create in Me a Clean Heart, individuals, couples, and families are given useful, practical tools to break the cycle of pornography.
Director of Marriage and Family Ministry, John Barrientes said most parishes are ready to go, having ordered books and materials to share with parishioners. He said, although the book (Equipped) goes into greater detail, particularly in dealing with digital devices, one can participate in the online 7-day challenge immediately. “The idea of the challenge is to help families implement some accountability. Maybe part of the challenge is to look at filtering and accountability software like CovenantEyes™. We are giving them ideas to implement immediately and for the long term,” he said.
To learn more and check out the challenges: CleanHeart.online or go to CovenantEyes.com.
By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic Staff, March 3, 2022