We are all searching for authentic love which is unconditional and self-giving, the Catholic apologist and author said Feb. 17 at an event called The Love That Satisfies, hosted by Blessed Trinity Parish in Toronto.
However, he added, it is becoming increasingly difficult to recognize this kind of love in a culture that promotes values opposite to those that build healthy relationships.
“We’ve reached a tipping point in our culture where everyone either struggles with porn or knows and loves somebody who does,” said Fradd, who has written and spoken widely on the effects of pornography. “We need to begin talking about this topic in an open way because people need help. Pornography isn’t something that men just struggle with, it is a human struggle.”
Cardinal Thomas Collins was among the audience and also gave an address on the importance and joy of sexuality.
The event marks the beginning of a new initiative the archdiocese is looking to launch within the next few months, called AM Ministries. It is a parish-based ministry that will offer hope and resources to those struggling with forms of sexual addiction, like pornography, and those affected by the struggles of others.
“In an over-sexualized culture, it’s important for the Church to step up and engage in the conversation as well,” said Paola Fraietta, youth minister and lay pastoral associate at Blessed Trinity Parish, who will also be organizing AM ministries. “Youth are receiving so many different messages in their circles about sexuality that aren’t life-giving. The message of the Gospel needs to enter into their conversations so they may experience the joy of love and sexuality that God so longs for all of us to enjoy!”
Science and psychology are beginning to adopt a very similar view that pornography is damaging viewers’ brains, relationships and attitudes towards sex and women.
Studies have shown that porn acts like a drug, laying down neuro-pathways in the brain that become stronger with prevalent use and lead to tolerance and addiction, ultimately changing the brain and the way the viewer thinks about sex.
“Anyone who is mildly interested in scientific findings cannot maintain that porn is not harmful,” said Fradd.
Sexuality is fundamentally good, but it is warped by a culture that chooses lust over authentic love and sex over intimacy. Fradd said porn kills love by making real relationships more difficult and less satisfying.
It makes it more difficult to connect with others and decreases intimacy. The porn industry appears to be a fantasy but is filled with drugs, violence, abuse and rape.
“We are made by Love, to love, for love,” he said. “Love says this is my body for you, but lust says the exact opposite. This is your body, taken by me.”
Many at the event were left inspired and hopeful about the promise of authentic love.
“Fradd had an engaging and humourous talk about the emptiness and boredom of choosing lust over love,” said Virginia Mervar, a student who was present at the talk. “He left me and other listeners hopeful about the promises of Love Himself, who truly satisfies.”
To close his talk, Fradd discussed different ways we can tackle pornography and its damaging impact on our daily lives.
(Chelmecki, 17, is a Grade 12 student at Father John Redmond Catholic Secondary School in Toronto.)