Evaluation of Accusations Against Priests and Religious

We have extensive experience in evaluating accusations against priests, causes of false accusations and in assisting priests in addressing conflicts in those to whom they minister.

The Justice for Priests new publication to help accused priests is an excellent resource.

Manual of Self Defense

Evaluation of Conflicts in Self-Giving

Ministry for Pornography Conflicts

Priests are reporting a marked increase in ministry to those with internet pornography conflicts.  Dr. Peter Kleponis gave two conferences on pornography to 1,800 priests in the Archdiocese of New York in June 2010 and has given conferences to priests on this topic in many dioceses. 

Two webinars with Dr. Rick Fitzgibbons from those conferences are available at www.maritalhealing.com/pornographywebinar.php.

In our clinical experience the most common psychological conflicts in priests that predispose them to pornography are loneliness, weaknesses in male confidence and selfishness.  These issues are addressed in articles on this site and at www.maritalhealing.com.

Dr. Kleponis offers an ongoing group therapy teleconference for priests with pornography conflicts in which anonymity is maintained.

We recommend the new DVD/CD, Blessed Are the Pure of Heart, which discusses Bishop Robert Finn's excellent pastoral letter on pornography.  Our associate, Dr. Peter Kleponis, also comments on the emotional and character conflicts which influence pornography addiction. It can be ordered at www.familyland.org/FLStore/SearchResults.aspx?txtSearch+1036-07. A preview of this DVD is available at YouTube.com, www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9tQ4n9PLzI. Also, the chapter on the addicted spouse/relative on this site addresses the pornography conflict in married life.

Dr. Kleponis gave two Zenit interviews on the healing of pornography conflicts in June 2010, www.zenit.org/article-29697?l=English www.zenit.org/article-29706?l=English.

 

Compulsive sexual behavior

Compulsive sexual behavior appears to begin early in life, to have a male preponderance, and to run a chronic or episodic course. It is also commonly associated with psychiatric co-morbidity, typically mood, anxiety, substance use, and personality disorders. Further research is needed to better our understanding of the disorder and improve our ability to develop specific interventions. Kuzma, JM, Black DW. Epidemiology, prevalence, and natural history of compulsive sexual behavior. Psychiatr Clin N. A. 2008 Dec;31(4):603-11.

 

Origins of compulsive pornography use

In our clinical experience the most common emotional and character conflicts which influence this difficulty are:

  • Selfishness
  • Loneliness and sadness
  • Boredom
  • Marital conflicts with a controlling, angry, critical, selfish, emotionally distant or negative spouse
  • Confidence weaknesses
  • Excessive sense of responsibility with lack of balance in life
  • Poor body image
  • Social isolation
  • Mistrust and anxiety in relationships
  • Excessive anger
  • Lack of self-giving to others
  • Difficulty in receiving love
  • Disordered priorities
  • Excessive sense of independence
  • Boredom with contraceptive sex
  • Lack of acceptance by peers, particularly in adolescents and in the adolescent stage of development
  • Lack of sense of fulfillment


Chapters on this site which address sadness, selfishness, anxiety, marital love and sexuality, marital anger and controlling conflicts can be helpful to those with this serious difficulty. In our clinical experience these conflicts can be resolved and, subsequently, the compulsive use of pornography healed.

 

Harm to marriage from pornography

Pornography harms marriages and families in numerous ways including:
 

  • a belief that fantasy is better than authentic love
  • growth in selfishness - the major enemy of marital love
  • failure to understand and appreciate the beauty and sacredness of marital love
  • lack of refinement in self-giving to the romantic aspect of marriage, to the marital friendship and to the intimate relationship
  • severe sadness, anger, mistrust and insecurity in the victim spouse
  • harm to marital intimacy
  • disordered view of beauty, goodness and sexuality
  • increased vulnerability to adultery
  • increased risk for marital separation and divorce
  • weakened spiritual life

 

Damage to young men from pornography

  • involvement in a fantasy world that undermines the ability to relate to young women in a healthy way
  • interferes with the development of a healthy personality
  • harms the ability to understand and want to make a loving commitment in marriage
  • fosters the hook-up culture
  • results in sexual obesity
  • can lead to severe loneliness, depression, weak confidence and social anxiety.

 

Damage to young women

According to the American Psychological Association, the culture can be infused with sexualized representations of girls and women, suggesting that such sexualization is good and normal. This leads to girls and women feeling bad about themselves: there is evidence that sexualization contributed to impaired cognitive performance in college-aged women, and related research suggests that viewing material that is sexually objectifying can contribute to body dissatisfaction, eating disorders, low self-esteem, depressive affect, and even physical health problems in high-school-aged girls and in young women.

In addition to leading to feelings of shame and anxiety, sexualizing treatment and self- objectification can generate feelings of disgust toward one’s physical self. Girls may feel they are ugly and gross.   APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls (2007) www.apa.org/pi/women/programs/girls/report.aspx.

 

Damage to spiritual life

"This plague stalks the souls of men, women and children, ravages the bonds of marriage and victimizes the most innocent among us. It obscures and destroys people’s ability to see one another as unique and beautiful expressions of God’s creation, instead darkening their vision, causing them to view others as objects to be used and manipulated. Those who engage in such activity deprive themselves of sanctifying grace and destroy the life of Christ in their souls.”  Bishop Paul S. Loverde’s pastoral Letter on pornography,  Bought with a Price: Pornography and the Attack on the Living Temple of God, 2006, www.arlingtondiocese.org/bishop/about_boughtprice.php.

Pornography consists in removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties. It offends against chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other. It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants, since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others. It immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world. It is a grave offense. Civil authorities should prevent the production and distribution of pornographic materials. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2354.

 

Warning signs of pornography use in marriage
 

  • neglect of the marital friendship
  • neglect of the romantic aspect of the marriage
  • loss of interest in the intimate relationship
  • increased tendency to isolate
  • increased irritability
  • decrease in positive, loving communication
  • increased viewing of pornography in the home

 

Internet pornography healing

The six point recovery plan we have found to be effective includes: 

  • self-knowledge
  • growth in virtues
  • friendships/peer support
  • protection of the home
  • 12 step group for those with addictions
  • spiritual plan


Chapters on maritalhealing.com that address selfishness, sadness, anxiety, marital love and sexuality, marital anger and controlling conflicts can be helpful.  Some individuals have found 12 step groups, such as sexaholics anonymous, of great benefit.  In our practice men have reported being strengthened by participating in a biweekly teleconference in which anonymity is maintained by using first names. Finally, we encourage our Catholic patients to go to the sacrament of reconciliation on a weekly basis to the same priest if possible and to receive the Eucharist as often as possible.  We have seen that the power of these sacrament regularly strengthens individuals to fight against this powerful addiction.

Some patients also benefit from the use of SSRIs (serotonin re uptake inhibitors) which decrease anxiety, sadness and anger.  The side effect of these medications of a diminished sexual drive and performance is one of the few beneficial medication side effects.

Parents have attempted to protect their children in high school and college from pornography by placing a program on their laptops such as Covenant Eyes which sends a weekly report to the parents of the web sites visited. Some college students have been warned that if regular pornography use is found that they will lose their financial support. Those struggling with internet pornography have been helped by having the weekly report from this program sent to a good friend.  Also, problematic sites can be blocked by the use of www.netnanny.com.

For Catholics working with a confessor/spiritual director is important in the treatment plan.  Spiritual directors can assist individuals to grow in trusting the Lord has plan to protect them from loneliness and to strengthen their male confidence.

We have found that teleconferences for men with internet pornography addiction in which anonymity is maintained by using first names are very effective in the treatment process.  In these teleconferences the emotional causes of the conflict are addressed and the twelve steps are employed.  A number of articles that demonstrate the benefits of telepsychiatry are available at Medline, the web site of the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed.

Priests can help in addressing the pornography epidemic by communicating the beauty and sacredness of sexuality in the sacrament of marriage, by warning of the dangers of pornography and compulsive masturbation, by strengthening Catholic fatherhood, by considering developing support groups for parishoners with this conflict that could be based on a teleconference and by criticizing permissive parenting and the contraceptive mentality.

Books that are helpful with this conflict include The Social Costs of Pornography, Clean of Heart, Every Young Man's Battle Guide, Theology of the Body for Teens, The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality and Theology of the Body for Beginners , The Courage to be Chaste and the websibes, www.pornharms.com.  We also recommend The Weight of Smut, Mary Eberstadt, First Things, June-July, 2010, Not Your Father's Pornography. Jason Byasse, First Things, 2008. the addiction chapter and the marital infidelity chapter on this website.

A John Paul II Institute for Studies in Marriage and Family, Patrick Williams, wrote in an excellent paper on this topic, “When beauty is recovered as purity and goodness, the person rejects pornography because there is no longer an attraction to it.  The force of true beauty is great and can, even if slowly and imperfectly, replace the corrupt understanding of beauty.  This requires openness to the saving power of God to transform the heart.  The realization of a true understanding of beauty restores the sight of man to overcome his concupiscence, to overcome his use of the other as a mere body.  John Paul II knew this well when he quoted Dostoyevsky, ‘beauty will save the world.’”Pornography and Beauty:  The Understanding of Psychology and the Thought of Wojtlya/John Paul II, 2007,  Pornography and Beauty,

John Paul II's wisdom from Letter to Artists, no.16 is helpful in the struggle against the pornography epidemic, He wrote,“Beauty is a key to the mystery and a call to transcendence. It is an invitation to savour life and to dream of the future. That is why the beauty of created things can never fully satisfy. It stirs that hidden nostalgia for God which a lover of beauty like Saint Augustine could express in incomparable terms: ‘Late have I loved you, beauty so old and so new: late have I loved you!’”. John Paul II, Letter to Artists, n. 16 (1999)  A true appreciation for love and beauty can contribute to healing the present pornography epidemic.

Parishioners who view homosexual pornography on the internet can be helped by viewing the You tube interview of Dr. Robert Spitzer of Columbia University on the possibility of healing same sex attractions can be informative www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBhW2q11qu8&feature=related. He comments on his research study of 200 adults who were out of the lifestyle for at least five years which was published in a major peer reviewed journal. Dr. Spitzer led the task force that removed homosexuality from psychiatric diagnostic manual in 1973.

Our mission is to strengthen Catholic marriages and families by educating spouses, marital therapists and clergy about common causes of conflicts in marital self-giving and effective approaches to alleviating such conflicts. 

Our mission is to strengthen families by educating parents about common causes of emotional and behavioral conflicts in children and by providing effective approaches to alleviating such conflicts. 

Dr. Fitzgibbons has coauthored the second edition of a textbook on the treatment on excessive anger in adult and child psychiatric disorders in the field of positive psychology for American Psychological Association Books, Forgiveness Therapy: An Empirical Guide for Resolving Anger and Restoring Hope.