Combining scientific research, statistics, humor as well as personal testimony Australian-born speaker Matt Fradd addressed the difficult topic of pornography to a variety of different audiences during a two-day visit to the Diocese of Venice in early May.
Fradd stressed that he didn’t want to tell his audiences what to do, but to provide information about behaviors and the negative consequences that result.
“We live in a pornified culture,” Fradd said to a group of adults and teens on May 4, 2021 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. “Instead of seeing pictures and reading articles in magazines and books, children can now access hard-core pornography in the home on the internet.”
At the invitation of the Diocese Office of Religious Education and Office of Family Life, Fradd spoke to middle school students at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School in Port Charlotte and Incarnation Catholic School in Sarasota before appearing at the public event at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice on May 4, 2021. The next day, he spoke to freshmen and sophomores at Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota in the morning, was the keynote at a Luncheons for Life gathering in Venice, and in the evening, he addressed some 300 teens at Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch.
These talks grew out of the recent Safe Haven Sunday (March 7, 2021) within the Diocese of Venice which was a day of awareness that provided the opportunity for the Diocese to directly address the problem of pornography in marriages, families, and in our culture. At the same time, resources were made available to support individuals, married couples and families in making their homes safe from pornography.
During his talks, Fradd used age-appropriate language to deliver his powerful message. He began each session facing the issue head-on, saying: “The problem with porn is not that it shows too much but instead it shows too little of the human person. Porn reduces the complexity, the individuality and the uniqueness of the man or woman. It creates a two-dimensional thing for consumption and dehumanizes them in that way.”
Citing scientific research, Fradd spoke about the effects of excessive pornography on the brain, causing changes not unlike addictions to drugs. This addiction can cause users to become dissatisfied with their partner because realistic expectation is replaced by a two-dimensional fantasy.
When asked by his own young son about what pornography is, Fradd admittedly struggled to find a clear answer but shared his view on how to approach the topic.
He told his son, “Pornography is pictures or videos of people who are showing parts of their body that their bathing suit should cover. If you ever see that, or if someone shows that to you, or you see it on a billboard, or in a magazine, internet, tv show; you should always tell mommy and daddy and we will always be very proud of you. You might think you were in trouble, but I promise you, we will be proud of you for telling us that.”
He suggested that parents should sit down with their kids and let them know that they are aware that pornography is available everywhere, and that they are comfortable having discussions about it. “It’s important to let kids know that technology is amoral, neither good nor evil,” he added, “but, it’s how we use technology that is important.”
During a talk to students at Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School on May 5, Fradd shared a story about how un-adult-like porn really is, noting that a friend refused to enter a strip club with the rest of the group by simply stating, “I just don’t think it’s manly to have to pay a woman to pretend to like you.”
Fradd said the consequences of accessing pornography, even as teens, can follow them for the rest of their life. “Human sexuality is so powerful and in contrast pornography is hellish mockery of heavenly reality.”
Fradd concluded each talk stressing that even if someone in the audience looks at porn on a regular basis or they feel it is impossible to stop, it does not mean healing cannot occur. He offered two websites as excellent resources to assist in this process – www.strive21.com (for men), https://www.magdalaministries.org/ (for women). If additional help is needed, he recommended seeking a spiritual advisor, a certified sexual therapist and going to a 12 step program.
For parents, Fradd also recommended the use of internet accountability software such as Covenant Eyes, which monitors and filters computers, hand-held devices and phones can be found at www.covenanteyes.com. This site was promoted during Diocesan Safe Haven Sunday.