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Pornography 'is indeed a dark shadow over our world today,' Buffalo Bishop Richard Malone said.Lisa Bourne / LifeSiteNews

BALTIMORE, Maryland, November 19, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The U.S. Bishops' Conference made a firm declaration condemning the damage of pornography Tuesday at its Fall General Assembly.

Create in Me a Clean Heart: A Pastoral Response to Pornography, taking its name from Psalm 51, was approved after some minor revision in wording pertaining to culpability for sin with pornography use.

“There is an urgent need for the bishops to communicate clearly the destructive effects of pornography,” stated Buffalo Bishop Richard Malone, chair of the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, presenting the final draft of the document at the bishops' meeting on Monday.

“Pornography is a particularly sinister instance of consumption,” he said. “It is indeed a dark shadow over our world today.”

USCCB President Louisville Archbishop Joseph Kurtz told the bishops the statement was also occasion to teach God's design for human sexuality.

“As we as a body take up the formal statement on the destructive effects of pornography in our age, we have the great opportunity to lift up the beauty of God's plan for human sexuality,” he said.

Hope and healing for those harmed by pornography is mentioned at the outset of the bishops' statement as forming its purpose, along with raising awareness of the pervasiveness of porn.

“While the production and use of pornography has always been a problem, in recent years its impact has grown exponentially, in large part due to the Internet and mobile technology,” the statement says. “Some have even described it as a public health crisis. Everyone, in some way, is affected by increased pornography use in society. We all suffer negative consequences from its distorted view of the human person and sexuality.”

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The document clearly identifies pornography use as a sin – in fact, a mortal one, when the user's culpability is established – and it plainly relies on the Church's Catechism to define porn.

“Producing or using pornography is gravely wrong,” it states. “It is a grave matter by its object. It is a mortal sin if it is committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.”

The statement also recognizes the addictive nature of pornography.

“Addictions are very hard to overcome, and help is needed to regain one's freedom,” it states.

The 20-plus-page document is aimed mainly at Catholic leaders and parents. It is meant to be the basis for further specific resources for various groups that would wrestle with pornography and its effects, such as parents, clergy, young people, and men and women.

“It's not meant to be exhaustive or the end of our efforts,” Bishop Malone told the bishops' assembly. “It's kind of a launch pad.”

The bishops approved the statement, with 230 votes in favor, 4 opposed, and 1 abstention.

Bishop Malone's committee will develop supplemental material next year, to include a condensed version of the statement, and targeted resources for priests, parents, and young people and others.

The USCCB web page for the document provides access to the following:

A list of support groups and recovery programs for those who have been affected by pornography: men and women who use or are addicted to pornography and their spouses and family members, men and women involved in the pornography industry, and others; advice and resources for parents, grandparents, and all who work with children and young people and wish to protect their innocence; preaching resources for priests and deacons; internet filtering tools to block pornographic content on computers and all devices connected to the internet; educational resources with additional information about the harms of pornography; and other Catholic statements about pornography.