The Vice of Pornography "weakens the soul", Pope Francis Cautions Seminarians

Pope Francis speaking to seminarians at the Vatican, Oct. 26, 2022 | Vatican media

Pope Francis warned seminarians this week about how the vice of digital pornography “weakens the priestly heart.”

In a meeting with hundreds of seminarians studying in Rome, the pope underlined that it is important for seminarians and priests to be very careful about the “temptation of digital pornography” because “it weakens the soul.”

“Dear brothers, be careful of this. The pure heart, the heart that receives Jesus every day, cannot receive this pornographic information,” Pope Francis said on Oct. 24 in Paul VI Hall.

Pope Francis speaking to seminarians in Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, Oct. 26, 2022. Vatican Media

“And if from your cell phone you can delete this, delete it, so you won’t have temptation at hand. And if you can’t delete it, protect yourself properly so you don’t have access to this. I tell you, it weakens the soul.”


Pope Francis explained that he wanted to bring up the problem of pornography because “it is a vice that so many people have — so many lay men, so many lay women, and even priests and religious sisters.”

He added that he was not just talking about “criminal pornography, like child abuse,” but what some people might call “‘normal’ pornography.”

“The devil enters from there. It weakens the priestly heart,” the pope repeated.

Pope Francis brought up pornography as he responded to 10 questions from seminarians ranging from spiritual direction and priestly formation to the war in Ukraine. 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes pornography as “a grave offense” that “immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world,” injures the dignity of its participants, and “perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other.”

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Pope Francis speaking to seminarians in Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, Oct. 26, 2022. Vatican Media

Many Catholic ministries have been founded to help people struggling with addiction to pornography, including Integrity RestoredStrive: 21-Day Porn DetoxReclaim Sexual HealthCovenant Eyes, and the Victory App.

Courtney Mares is a Rome Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. A graduate of Harvard University, she has reported from news bureaus on three continents and was awarded the Gardner Fellowship for her work with North Korean refugees.