a culture of use and failed fatherhood

John Paul II once observed that the opposite of love is not hate, but use: the act of treating another person as an object for self-gratification.

We are in the throes of a culture of use and degradation of the human person. If you had any doubts about this, you must read this disturbing article about a young man named Justin Berry in today’s New York Times. If you don’t have much time, simply watch the video clips of an interview with Justin (totaling about 12 minutes). Justin’s six-year descent into the dark world of internet porno-vision is a very sobering narrative about the exploitation of young people through the use of internet web cam technology. The scale and depth of the abuse is stunning, and confirms the notion that the clerical sexual abuse crisis was merely the tip of an iceberg, and that our culture is truly hemorrhaging from the effects of the sexual revolution and advances in technology that are unaccompanied by parallel advances in virtue. Justin’s paying clients included lawyers, doctors, teachers, and at least one adult who worked in “child protection services.”

Alfred Kinsey would be proud of the masterful incarnation of his new Holocaust. And Planned Parenthood is actively involved in this assault on the innocence of the young. The best resource that I know of in terms of uncovering this dark world is Dr. Judith Reisman.

The thing that makes the New York Times story compelling is that we can see, in stark relief, how damnably cavalier our culture has been about the exploitation of the young: under the auspices of civil rights / free speech / free love, the most outrageous permissions have been granted to prostitute our future by exploiting the innocence of the young.

Another very sobering dimension of the article — and very telling — is Justin’s relationship with his father… a father who was not just asleep on the job, but actively participating in his son’s exploitation. Talk about a trust-shattering experience. This article is a testimony to the devastating effects of a fatherless culture.

You have to admire the courage of Justin in being willing to push through the shame and the lure of money and power. Somehow, he found the grace to listen to the voice of conscience, reminding him of his own dignity, and of the dignity of his peers, while facing all kinds of fear of reprisal for leaving that dark world behind.

Pray for healing for Justin. Pray for the many other unknown victims of child pornography, online and offline. Pray that Catholic educators will become part of the solution, rather than active participants in the problem. And pray that God would raise up missionaries to the world of porn, who will step forward to nurse the wounds of the victims of this all-out war on the humanity of the next generation.

Especially appropriate, in relation this article, is a recent address by Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Holy See’s permanent observer to the United Nations:

Given the ever increasing ease of access to information of every possible kind, the Holy See also stresses the need to protect the most vulnerable, such as children and young people, especially in the light of the increase of content featuring violence, intolerance and pornography.

Perhaps the most essential question raised by technological progress is whether, as a result of it, people will grow in dignity, responsibility and openness to others.

Kudos to the staff of the New York Times for taking an active role in helping Justin out of this dark world.

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