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Pope warns priests about the dangers of watching porn: ‘It weakens the soul’

Pope Francis addresses pilgrims during his weekly general audience at Saint Peter's Square in the Vatican on Oct. 26, 2022.
Pope Francis addresses pilgrims during his weekly general audience at Saint Peter's Square in the Vatican on Oct. 26, 2022. | VINCENZO PINTO/AFP via Getty Images

Priests and seminary students must avoid the allure of internet pornography, which, along with other online temptations, “weakens the soul,” Pope Francis warned seminarians on Monday. 

Speaking at the Paul VI Audience Hall at Vatican City, the pontiff made comments and answered multiple questions about various issues, including the scourge of pornography.

At one point, Francis acknowledged being uncomfortable with modern communications technology, noting that years ago, when he became a bishop, he was gifted a cell phone, only to use it once to call his sister and then returned it.

"It is not my world,” he said regarding devices like smartphones, as quoted by Vatican News, but then acknowledged that “you must use them."

The pope then went on to warn about things like online porn, telling those gathered that it can be a great temptation, even for those who are religious.

“It weakens the soul. It weakens the soul. The devil enters from there: it weakens the priestly heart,” added Francis, as reported by Vatican News.

At the same gathering, Francis referred to life as “a continuous imbalance” in which “there are God's motions that invite you to something, to the desire to do good.”

The pontiff also responded to a question from an unnamed Ukrainian priest, noting that “wars are the destruction of children” and that the Church “must suffer, weep, pray.”

“You suffer so much, your people,” said Francis to the Ukrainian priest. “But pray for the aggressors, because they are more victims like you. You cannot see the wounds in their souls, but pray, pray that the Lord will convert them and that peace will come.”

In recent times in the United States, there has been a growing concern about the impact of online pornography on viewers' mental health, especially on impressionable young people.

Famous singer Billie Eilish told Howard Stern in an interview on SiriusXM last year that she was greatly harmed by watching porn when she was a child.

“As a woman, I think porn is a disgrace. I used to watch a lot of porn, to be honest. I started watching porn when I was like 11,” Eilish said at the time. “I think it really destroyed my brain, and I feel incredibly devastated that I was exposed to so much porn.”

“It got to a point where I couldn’t watch anything else unless it was violent. I didn’t think it was attractive … I was a virgin. I had never done anything. And so, it led to problems."

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