Mercy Rises from a Clean Heart

Monsignor J. Brian Bransfield, STD, general secretary of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, speaks on the bishops’ pastoral letter on pornography and the profound need for God’s mercy in a society that has an increasing disrespect for the dignity of human life and the human person at the 2016 statewide Respect Life Conference, Oct. 15 at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Winter Park. (GLENDA MEEKINS | FC)

ORLANDO | Pornography is a $12-15 billion industry in the United States alone, larger than all the sports industries put together. It is third largest economic sector on the internet. Sixty-two percent of divorce attorneys say that obsession with pornography has been a significant factor in the divorces they have handled in the last year.

These are just a few of the startling statistics presented by Reverend Monsignor J. Brian Bransfield, STD, general secretary of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and keynote speaker  at the 30th Annual Respect Life Conference at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Winter Park.

Using the parable of The Good Samaritan, from the Gospel of Luke, Monsignor Bransfield addressed the topic of sin and mercy as related to pornography and the recent United States bishops’ document response to pornography, Create in Me a Clean Heart, based on Ps 51:12.

“First came the priest, then the robber, then the Good Samaritan,” explained Monsignor Bransfield. He unveiled the metaphor by describing the stages of sin and addiction and how they relate to the travelers on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, equating the traveler to “every person” and the robbers to pornography.

According to the bishops’ document, “The Church’s teaching on the harm and sinfulness of pornography is grounded in the greater ‘yes’ or affirmation of the inviolable dignity of the human person revealed fully in Christ and the gift of human sexuality and marriage in God’s plan.”

Because humanity is created in the image and likeness of God, sexual objectification reduces the gift of one’s personhood. The document explains, “Because of the beautiful meaning and dignity communicated by our bodies—which communicate our very selves—our bodies should be treated with the greatest respect. We, and therefore our bodies, are not meant to be used but loved. “

The document goes on the quote St. John Paul II’s teaching, “the opposite of love is not hate but rather using a person, as if he or she were an object. To love others is to recognize them as the gift they are, to seek what is truly good and best for them, and never to use them and thereby objectify them as something less than persons.”

Referring to Genesis chapter 3 and the seven stages of falling into sin: isolation, doubt, lies, fear, action, retreat, justification/blame, Monsignor Bransfield urged awareness that the most important phase to avoid is isolation. This step, which includes distancing oneself from family, increased time alone, avoidance of Mass and the Sacraments and family activities, is the first red flag of trouble.

But Monsignor Bransfield reminded those gathered that God always has a plan. The plan was Jesus, the Good Samaritan.

“God creates clean hearts by means of his mercy. When the Good Samaritan comes to the wounded man he leans over, down and in. That is the posture of mercy, such that the body of the victim and the body of the healer form one, a curve. St. Thomas Aquinas says the curve is the most perfect geometric shape. It is the shape of love,” he said.

The bishops remind us that, “Each of us is caught up in the drama of sin and redemption; we are challenged to put selfishness aside and to strive always toward more perfect love. But the Lord invites us with all our weaknesses to trust and abide in him: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9)

Resources

The Catholic Church and many other communities and organizations are committed to providing men, women, parents, and leaders with the tools they need to find freedom from pornography and help others do the same, Visit www.usccb.org/cleanheart for:

  • List of support groups and recovery
  • Advice and resources for parents, grandparents, and all who work with children and young people
  • Preaching resources for priests and deacons
  • Internet filtering tools to block pornographic content
  • Educational resources
  • Other Catholic statements about pornography