Manhattan — Childhood is often synonymous with innocence. It can be easy for parents to look at their bright-eyed child(ren) and want to shelter and protect them in every way. Even with a religious upbringing and vigilant efforts by parents, Father Kyle Berens says society and culture is highly sexualized. What can often be an unintentional first exposure to sexual images can lead a child down a dark path, he said. “Pornography, unfortunately, is a very common problem,” Father Berens said. “We need to address it as a common problem. “To act like nothing is happening is a disservice to countless souls who are suffering. To those souls who think they are the only one who are struggling with pornography use or addiction.”
In order to help educate parents and families about how to discuss sexuality, the Salina Diocese is hosting an event: “Let light shine out of darkness” — Empowering FAMILIES to overcome the darkness of an over sexualized culture. The event is from 3-5 p.m. March 11 at St. Thomas More Church in Manhattan. It will include talks by Dave DiNuzzo, founder of Truemanhood.com, and Lori and Eric Doerneman, creators of The Parenting Dare.
Lori Doerneman, the mother of 8 in Wichita, said as a parent, she was doing everything she thought she should to raise Catholic children. “I didn’t talk to Eric about pornography because ‘Why would he look at that?’ ” she said. The line is one she hears over and over from mothers. They know pornography is out there, but think their child would never view pornographic images. She had the same assumption, until she walked into her son, Eric’s, bedroom during high school. “He couldn’t get out,” she said of her son’s pornography use. “I could see it was an addiction. He could not just step out of it.”
This led to much research and discussion on the best course for her son, who is now 24, to take. He struggled through a decade of porn addiction, and now joins his mother to talk to parents and families, but also high school and college youth about the dangers of pornography.
DiNuzzo, who lives in Beloit, is the father of four young children. He began the True Manhood ministry a decade ago, after expressing frustration to his wife about a lack of resources for Catholic fathers. “My wife said ‘Stop complaining and do something about it,’ ” he said. His approach to discussing sexuality is to use St. John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body” as a basis. “I will talk about human sexuality and how it looks, from the background of scripture and virtue,” he said. “I’ll be talking about the value of the human person and how God created us.”
The discussion is one appropriate for all ages, DiNuzzo said. “I teach this stuff to kids every day,” he said. “The content will be age-appropriate. “It’s appropriate to teach the Theology of the Body to a child or adult. There’s something age appropriate to talk about — how they value themselves. If they don’t know who they are and that distinction of male/female, they will never understand they were created for love and to love. They’ll have a skewed view of love in general.”
He said St. John Paul II said the opposite of love is not hate, but use. “We have a culture of using each other and there is emptiness and despair,” DiNuzzo said. An important aspect of discussion, especially with children, is the words chosen. He and his wife, Cathrine, have four children, ranging from age five to 10 years old. “We can teach little kids that you made a mistake or a bad decision, but that does not make you a bad person,” he said.
Pornography is a relevant topic for families. DiNuzzo said priests tell him the majority of confessions deal with lust relating to pornography. “I believe pornography is the devil’s No. 1 tool,” he said. “We are so desensitized as a culture to pornography. It’s everywhere.” As the mother of eight children, Lori Doerneman said it’s essential to have an open line of communication. “We talk about pornography all the time,” she said. “Every week, I have an alarm set to sit own and talk with each child and ask them ‘Have you seen anything that makes you uncomfortable?’ ”
About a year ago, Father Kyle Berens was at a conference with college students. One of the speakers, Father Sean Kilcawley, who works with Integrity Restored, urged the clergy in attendance to shed light on a topic often heard in the confessional, but rarely spoken about from the pulpit: pornography. “Pornography is a physical and spiritual battle,” said Father Berens, the pastor of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Junction City. “You can’t fight one with out the other or you will never win.” For those struggling with pornography use or addiction, he said a good first step is to go to the sacrament of Reconciliation. “Hopefully the priest can get them in contact with more help,” Father Berens said.
One spiritual aid in the battle against pornography is making some small sacrifice of food or other activities a person enjoys. “You give up something to train your body and your will,” Father Berens said. “You learn to say no to something. You learn that you do not have to have what you want the moment you want it.” Frequent confession is also helpful. “I tell people it doesn’t matter if for a period of time you need to come in daily or weekly,” he said when dealing with a pornography addiction. “Sin is like cancer. The longer it sits on your soul, the weaker you become.”
The next step is to seek help. For some, this involves professional counseling. For others, it involves finding an accountability partner. “Is there someone you trust that you can talk to about this outside of the confessional? That’s a good source of stopping pornography use,” Father Berens said. “With minors, I ask if they can talk to their parents. This is often the best thing for them to do.”
A common concern he hears from children is ‘Dad’s going to hate me’ or ‘Mom’s going to kill me.’ Fear of rejection or being shunned or shamed by family is common. “I ask them ‘Will they really do that, or do you think they’ll be sad because you’re hurting?’ ” he said. “I offer to be present as part of the conversation because I am committed to their recovery and their healing.” Another aspect of moving forward is to seek appropriate filters or software for electronic devices.
With sexual images so prevalent in culture, it is difficult to avoid them. Father Berens said some parents are hesitant to talk about sex with children and teens. “As Catholics, we’ve become so prudish and don’t want to talk about sex,” he said. “Kids are talking about sex and show each other things. If we act like nothing is happening, we’re feeding the naivete.”
Approaching a sexuality discussion should be done with prudence, and age appropriately, he quickly added. He often recommends the book “Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids” by Kristen A Jenson, MA, and Gail Poyner to help parents introduce the topic of pornography to grade school aged children.
Father Berens cautions parents that YouTube is a large source of first exposure to pornography for children. “If they have electronics that are not monitored, there is no secret that the pornography industry is seeking out children,” he said. Often, innocent games or videos that look like popular children’s shows will begin innocently, but introduce nudity or inappropriate content. Likewise, some pornography sites have names similar to those children would type in the Internet, or search for.
When James* married his wife nearly three decades ago, he knew he would never seek a physical relationship with another woman. Four years into the marriage, however, several circumstance collided and he found himself turning to pornography for gratification. “I don’t put any blame on my wife,” he said. “I didn’t look at my wife’s situation in our early marriage affectionately. We had young children and my wife stayed at home.” With young children, James said his wife was exhausted and the physical aspect of their relationship began to slip “so I looked for other places to satisfy myself.”
The rejection of marital affection cut deeply. “When the rejection came, I took it personally,” he said. “I didn’t once think about looking outside my marriage with another woman,” but magazines and videos seemed like an easy solution … at the time. And with a “boys will be boys” culture, it was easy to justify to himself. “I heard the whispers saying ‘You deserve this,’ ” he said. “I wanted to feel good about it and would say ‘This is not cheating on my wife.’ ”
Yet even as he was ensnared in the visual trap of pornography, he was still outwardly living his Catholic faith. “The real part I had a problem with was going to Mass on Sunday and receiving Holy Communion,” he said. “I felt like such a traitor. “I would not even think about going to Confession and confessing it at that time,” he added.
For nine years he struggled through the use of pornography. There weren’t many highs, but he can remember the lows vividly, including a time when his wife was out of town with their children. James remained home due to work commitments. “I would go to the video store and rent DVDs,” he said and explained he would sometimes dub the movies. On that particular weekend, he became sidetracked by other projects and inadvertently left the DVD in the family’s living room player. “The TV was off and my son was three or four. He came downstairs and I was in a room and I hear ‘Dad, there’s something really gross on TV,’ ” James said. “I dropped what I was doing, I ran over and shut the TV off right away. “It makes me shake when I think about it. My son was so young, he doesn’t remember it, thank God, but still. It was a horrible, horrible thing. As a father, I let that evil come into my home.”
The use of pornography was something that continued until he began leading weekend retreats for men. On one of those weekends, a fellow retreat staff member stood in front of the group of more than 60 men and gave a personal testimony about his pornography addiction. “When I heard that, I thought to myself ‘I gotta do this. I cannot ride the fence on this,’ ” James said. “We got into our small groups. I started talking about it and the tears flowed. It was a moment of reckoning. I promised my Lord I would work on this.” Yet acknowledging the problem was only the first step of a slow process. He began with the sacrament of Reconciliation. “That was one of the first steps,” James said. “It took me awhile to be able to talk to my wife about what I was doing. Then I went to my wife and told her everything.” As he worked to free himself from the chains of pornography, however, the temptation became more intense.
By The Register
Would you use the gifts you received from the Lord to serve one another? Do you realize you are united with others across the diocese into one body in Christ? The 2018 Catholic Community Annual Appeal (CCAA) is an opportunity to do just that. The gifts given through the 2018 CCAA fund the ministries and programs that serve parishes and individuals across the Salina Diocese. These include youth and adult education and formation as well as seminarian and clergy education and support.
The Salina Diocese serves more than 44,000 Catholics across 26,685 miles. The diocese spreads east to west from Manhattan to the Colorado border, and north to south from the Nebraska border to just south of I-70. It includes small rural parishes and larger urban parishes. It serves young Catholics to more mature Catholics, leading all to a closer connection with Christ. Everyone in the Diocese is a part of the body of Christ, needing each other and sharing in the generosity of God. Everyone is called to be generous.
On the weekend of March 3-4 there will be an in-pew solicitation for the CCAA to give people who have not had an opportunity to make a gift the chance to do so. Pledge cards and envelopes will be available in all parishes for those who need them.
All registered parishioners should have received a packet with a letter in early February from diocesan administrator Father Frank Coady asking for their prayerful consideration and support of this important appeal. Those who did not receive a packet and would like one can call the Office of Development at (785) 827-8746, x 42. Gifts can be given online at https://salinadio.solutiosoftware.com/development/online-giving.
At the beginning of the appeal, Father Coady shared an audio message at all Masses. The message in English and Spanish is available on the diocesan website, http://salinadiocese.org. Everyone across the diocese is encouraged to make a gift. Catholic teachings suggest tithing 10 percent of a family’s income – 5 percent to the parish, 4 percent to other charities, and 1 percent to the diocese. The annual appeal provides an opportunity for all to evaluate their charitable giving and to share their financial gifts with the Salina Diocese.
The pledge card gives the option to give once, quarterly or monthly over 10 months, starting in March and ending in December. Pledging over time allows the donor to spread their gift over multiple months, making a larger gift more comfortable. It is asked that all pledges be paid by the end of the year.
Last year 20 percent of households in the Salina Diocese gave to the annual appeal. Although this is an acceptable average, it is hoped that this year even more people will make a gift to “serve one another” through the 2018 CCAA. Charitable giving is a reflection of God’s gifts to us. Giving back to God should reflect God’s generosity to us. Some are blessed more and can give more; some can give less. Whatever the gift amount it is appreciated and needed.
As Father Coady said in his letter, “Everyone has received from the generosity of God and these opportunities to give back make us who we are: the body of Christ joined together as one.”
The 2018 Catholic Community Annual Appeal has begun. This year’s themes are “We, though many, are one body in Christ” and “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another.”
Father Frank Coady, Diocesan Administrator, sent a letter to every registered parishioner asking them to prayerfully consider a gift to support the ministries and programs that impact parishes across the Salina Diocese. As Father Coady said in the letter “To follow Christ is to have more concern for others than for ourselves. In this, we experience the joy and deep satisfaction that comes from being a servant. To give is to receive.”
He further explains, “the CCAA is your yearly opportunity to put this giving attitude into practice, to experience salvation by serving the ministries, parishes and individuals throughout the diocese…We have all received from the generosity of God and these opportunities to give back make us who we are: the body of Christ joined together as one.”
The Salina Diocese serves more than 44,000 Catholics across 26,685 miles. The diocese spreads east to west from Manhattan to Atwood, and north to south from the Nebraska border to just south of I-70. It includes small rural parishes and larger urban parishes. It serves young Catholics to more mature Catholics, leading all to a closer connection with Christ. The themes this year reflect the diversity of the diocese and calls each of us to be generous.Click here for the message in English.
CCAA gifts provide the funding for ministries and programs across the diocese that respond to a broad range of needs and interests, and consequently, bind us together as a community of faith. The $1.1 million goal will support four primary categories of ministries and programs in the diocese: Seminarian and clergy education; education and formation for youth and adults; diocesan administration; and national church collections.
Seminarian and clergy education will receive 44 percent of the gifts. These funds provide health care for our clergy, priests’ retirement, and continuing education for active as well as retired priests. In addition, these gifts support the education of seminarians. The diocese has 53 active priests and 20 retired priests, along with 10 seminarians. Priests bring God’s presence into each parish. Seminarians represent the future of our diocese. This is an important need within the Salina Diocese.