Joint Statement on Pornography

The statement was developed in the course of twice-yearly meetings, begun in 1987, covering a wide range of issues of common concern.



Joint Statement on Pornography


by The Synagogue Council of America
  and The National Conference of Catholic Bishops


December 7, 1993


As Jewish and Roman Catholic leaders in America, we recognize the importance of the   constitutionally recognized right to freedom of speech. At the same time, however, we are   greatly concerned about the alarming growth of pornography. Graphic public displays, books,   videocassettes, advertising displays and even telecommunications frequently portray   degrading and violent sexual behavior, which demeans the human character, debases the   individual and is openly pornographic and morally offensive.


As Jews and Catholics, we teach that the creator fashioned each person in the Divine   image. Any material that demeans the inherent dignity of women, men and children by removing   sexuality from the context of meaningful interpersonal relationships denies the image of the   Creator within all of us. In our view, pornography and the portrayal of sadistic violence   debase sexuality, corrode human relationships, exploit individuals -- especially women and   young people -- undermine marriage and family life, foster antisocial behavior and weaken   the moral fiber of society itself.


As religious leaders, our first responsibility is to teach -- openly and consistently --   important moral truths, including truths about sexual morality. The so-called   "ethic" of immediate sexual gratification is fundamentally opposed to integral   human growth and fulfillment. We must educate about the values of family life and   responsible life in society. We must teach that pornography degrades those used in its   production, as well as those who are desensitized or whose values are perverted through its   consumption. We denounce pornography because we believe that it reduces the Creator"s gift   of sexuality to a level that is devoid of personal dignity, commitment and spirituality.


We call upon our fellow citizens to help stem the proliferation of pornography in our   community by refusing to purchase or to view such materials. We further call upon all   members of our religious communities to foster a true respect for human sexuality among all   those with whom they come in contact. We especially appeal to parents to give guidance to   their children in this area. In addition, we believe it is incumbent upon teachers and   religious leaders to openly address these issues.