By TARA CONNOLLY Staff writer
The Diocese of Allentown has recommitted itself to raising awareness of the destructive effects of pornography, as well as offering resources for prevention and healing, through the formation of the “Lumen Christi Commission.”
Bishop of Allentown Alfred Schlert met Jan. 14 with the newly established commission, steered by Father Allen Hoffa, pastor of St. Joseph, Summit Hill, and several of its 12 members. The commission was given the name “Lumen Christi” meaning “Light of Christ.”
“I established the Lumen Christi Commission to help in the pastoral planning of addressing the burgeoning issue of pornography,” said Bishop Schlert.
“Unfortunately, pornography, through technology, is so readily accessible that there is no age, gender or social demographic that is immune from its deadly influence. Pornography exists in darkness, but the Light of Christ can conquer it by grace and forgiveness.”
Father Hoffa said the commission was also formed to help Bishop Schlert protect the faithful from the scourges of pornography through the practices set forth by other organizations and specifically by Integrity Restored (IR), a not-for-profit organization based in Elizabethtown.
IR was designed to restore the integrity of individuals, spouses and families that have been affected by pornography and pornography addiction. It provides education, training, encouragement and resources to break free from pornography, heal relationships, and assist parents in preventing and responding to pornography exposure, which is so devastating in the lives of children.
Father Hoffa said he and nine other diocesan priests attended IR training in October 2017 to become better confessors and spiritual fathers to people in needs.
Participating in the training were: Father Kevin Bobbin, chaplain at Bethlehem Catholic High School and Lafayette College, Easton; Father Christopher Butera, director of the Diocesan Office of Seminarian Formation; Father Bernard Ezaki, assistant pastor of St. Jane Frances de Chantal, Easton; and Monsignor William Glosser, pastor of St. Clare of Assisi, St. Clair and administrator of St. Stephen, Port Carbon.
Also: Father Robert Finlan, pastor of Holy Guardian Angels, Reading; Father Keith Laskowski, pastor of Our Lady of Mercy, Easton; Father Michael Mullins, pastor of St. Paul, Allentown; Monsignor Walter Scheaffer, pastor of St. Mary, Kutztown; Father Mark Searles, director of the Diocsan Office of Vocations Promotion; and Father Jason Stokes, pastor of Most Blessed Trinity, Tremont.
Although some of the trained priests will serve on the commission, members of the commission include diocesan staff and laypersons, who will carry out its mission to combat pornography.
“The commission is a cross-section of persons who will cover every angle, such as catechesis, parents, Spanish-speaking community and religious. The commission will work to implement initiatives and programmatic change throughout the Diocese so that souls are not left vulnerable to the evil of pornography,” said Father Hoffa.
“Our mission is to effectively aid the faithful in the fight against pornography through formation, education, encouragement and resources. We journey alongside clergy, religious, individuals, parents, spouses, children and families to restore and protect the dignity given us by God. We will strive to provide freedom, prevention and healing to the faithful of our Diocese so that souls are not harmed by pornography.”
As chairperson of the new commission, Father Hoffa will also serve as director of the IR Apostolate and IR priest team leader.
Other members of the commission are:
- Father Christopher Butera, director of the Diocesan Office for Seminarian Formation and IR team member.
- Father Mark Searles, director of the Diocesan Office of Vocations Promotions.
- Deacon Peter Schutzler, assistant director of the Diocesan Office of the Permanent Diaconate.
- Sister Meg Cole, coordinator of the Diocesan Safe Environment Office.
- Dr. Brooke Tesche, chancellor of education.
- Alex Cirko, assistant superintendent, religious education.
- Wendy Krisak, Diocesan victim assistance coordinator.
- Robert Olney, coordinator of the Diocesan Office of Marriage and Natural Family Planning.
- Bernarda Liriano, director of the Office of Hispanic Affairs.
- Tricia Christ, communication and social media consultant.
- Kari Mallozzi, parent.
- Paul Marzen, parent.
During the Jan. 14 meeting Father Hoffa revealed statistics and findings that point to the use of pornography by 51 percent of all Americans, and information supporting that at least 80 percent of 15-to-17-year-olds have been exposed to hard-core pornography.
Other statistics maintain that every second $3,075.64 is spent on pornography, 28,258 persons are viewing, and 372 people type a sexual term into a search engine.
In addition, he stated users suffer damages like loneliness, depression, social anxiety, distorted experiences of intimacy, spiritual despair and marriage trouble.
“Overall, studies have found that the porn industry grosses $100 billion per year, and $3 billion of it is illegal,” said Father Hoffa.
As part of its plan and future goals, the commission will use books, podcasts, therapists and training workshops designed by IR. It will also inspire through Catholic teaching and use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Mallozzi, a parishioner of St. Ignatius Loyola, Sinking Spring, said serving on the commission is of great importance to her as she parents three children living in the technological age.
“We must be diligent in our efforts to protect, educate and guide our children about the proper use of technology in our lives. My hope for the commission is that we can reach into our communities to share a message of love and education to everyone – not just our youth,” she said.
One of the commission’s first tasks will be implementation of a hotline for persons with questions or addiction to pornography.
“Anyone can call – even parents. This is one area where we need to keep our young people safe,” said Father Hoffa.
“It is a very traumatic experience for a child to see explicit pornography,” he said.
Father Hoffa said the commission members will be available to return calls on the hotline and hope to specifically address ways to keep children safe from pornography, offer resources to those struggling with addiction to pornography and provide education about the dangers, and spiritual and psychological effects, of pornography.
“Sexual addiction comes in various forms. We don’t like to talk about it, but it is something we really have to enter into. The commission has put its trust in the Holy Spirit and is growing toward where the Lord is calling us,” he said.
The hotline can be reached at 610-871-5200 option 1 for Lumen Christi. For questions or more information, email ADLumenChristi@allentowndiocese.org.