The Men of Notre Dame Request a Porn Filter: Three Reasons for Concern

office-581131_640-300x200 The Men of Notre Dame Request a Porn Filter: Three Reasons for ConcernAt first glance, it seems to be a very positive initiative on the part of those at the University of Notre Dame. Over one thousand male students, faculty and staff have signed a petition asking that “the University implement a filter to make pornography inaccessible on the Notre Dame Wi-Fi networks.” Finally, some sanity seems to be taking hold in Catholic higher education.

An even more positive fact is that the majority of the signers are young male students who are requesting this censorship. They are demanding that moral standards be enforced. This is a refreshing counter-cultural move that runs so contrary to what everyone is saying about youth. Indeed, these youth desire something of order and dignity. Nothing could be more positive.

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However, a closer look at the text of the petition reveals three reasons for disappointment and concern.

The Cries of the Victims

The first disappointment is directed toward the administration to whom the petition is addressed. Faithful Catholics expect more from an institution of higher learning than to have a porn-accessible network in the first place. The Notre Dame Internet Compliance Policy already prohibits the access of pornographic material, but the University has not enforced the ban. Surveys show that nearly two-thirds of male students have accessed pornography through the university’s Wi-Fi network.

Catholic universities exist for the intellectual and moral development of students. The fact that students have to take the initiative to ask the administration to enforce its policies indicates that the university has lost something of its Catholic identity and mission.

Indeed, priests and religious should take the lead and even direct a crusade to rid the institution (and society in general) of this scourge that ruins the lives (and eternities) of so many men. It is afflictive to see the victims must cry out for help.

A Secular Document with Omissions

The second concern is the language of the petition itself. This criticism is directed toward the petitioners. The text of the petition is well-written and documented. It correctly outlines the social harm associated with pornography addiction. It highlights the abuse of women and minors that are associated with this plague. Pornography offends human dignity and rights.

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“This filter would send the unequivocal message that pornography is an affront to human rights and catastrophic to individuals and relationships,” reads the petition. “We are calling for this action in order to stand up for the dignity of all people, especially women.”

However laudable these goals may seem, they should not be the main reasons why pornography must be opposed on a Catholic campus. There are grave omissions in the text. There is no mention of God, morals, purity or sin. It reads like a United Nations document outside of any moral context. It is not Catholic or even Christian.

Why Pornography is Wrong

 That leads to the third and gravest concern about the petition that is directed toward both the petitioned and petitioners. The petition, praiseworthy though it may be, reflects a secular vision of a society where a traditional notion of God and personal salvation are no longer officially relevant.

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Church teaching is very clear. Pornography is wrong because it offends God. This is the most important reason why it must be opposed. The love of God calls for all to oppose those things that offend Him and violate the natural order He put in society.

Thus, pornography is wrong because it is sinful. Those who willfully engage and view it commit mortal sins that expose them to the danger of going to Hell for all eternity. No university networks should facilitate the damnation of souls. Everything must be done to prevent this.

A truly Catholic institution should be concerned about the salvation of all souls under its care—even those who are not Catholic.

The Spirit of the World

However, sin appears to be a remote or no concern for all involved. In an attempt to be inclusive, the petitioners left out these issues, focusing on the harms to individuals. By omitting any reference to the Faith, they leave out the most powerful reason for opposing pornography—and for signing the petition.

Unfortunately, language like that in the petition reflects the secularization of Catholic higher education. Through this warped vision of things, Catholic education has joined the spirit of the world and its follies. They favor a naturalistic and individualistic mindset outside of the supernatural sphere. Instead of strengthening the Faith in souls, these universities have become places where students lose it.

Because of this wrongheaded mindset, Catholic universities erroneously believe they must accommodate all viewpoints, behaviors and religions. Religion becomes relegated to a personal experience without real moral consequences. Everything must be permitted because individual gratification and fulfillment are the criteria by which things are judged. However, when an action hurts another, like pornography, it is permissible to oppose it.

Relativism with a Capital R

This mentality is tragic because it means that many modern Catholic universities no longer have sanctity as their guiding light. They no longer seek after Truth with a capital T. Rather they run after the tyranny of Relativism with a capital R. By abandoning their mission, administrators may think they are benefiting students by allowing them to compete in the marketplace with the skills that they may learn at their secularized institutes.

However, they do not realize that by remaining true to their missions they can fulfill both goals. Sanctification does not hinder the pursuit of knowledge but helps it. Sanctification leads to the perfection of individuals and therefore toward their full intellectual and moral development.

Sin, on the contrary, destroys lives. It offends God and deprives souls of the life of grace. It leads to their condemnation.

Concern over the petition is not tantamount to saying that all signatories agree with this secular outlook. There are surely young Catholics on the list that value purity, grace and the love of God before all else. These young men would be attracted to a bold “Catholic petition” that would give full expression to their desires. As the present Culture War has demonstrated over the decades, moral issues are powerful. They should be expressed unequivocally, in terms of right and wrong.

Bland secular petitions, however worthy the cause, do not have the power to solve grave moral problems like pornography. Real solutions come from a true love of God that changes lives and denounces sin.

 

As seen on CNSNews.