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The pope said pornography is ‘a vice that has so many people, so many lay people, so many lay women, and also priests and nuns’. Photo: EPA-EFE

Pope Francis claims pornography ‘weakens the soul’, calls it a vice of some priests, nuns

  • Pope Francis warned seminarians of the dangers of online pornography
  • He called pornography a vice of ‘so many lay people … also priests and nuns’
Pope Francis

Pope Francis issued a harsh rebuke of watching pornography, calling it a vice of many Catholics, popes and nuns that should be avoided.

The comment was made this week in response to a question about today’s generation of seminarians who are living in a digitally-forward world that includes social media.

According to the pope, pornography is “a vice that has so many people, so many lay people, so many lay women, and also priests and nuns”.

“And I’m not just talking about criminal pornography like that of child abuse, where you see cases of abuse in vivo: this is already degeneration. But some ‘normal’ pornography.”

He encouraged fellow Catholics to delete pornographic material from their phones so they “won’t have the temptation in hand”.

Pornography “weakens the soul”, making room for the devil, he said.

Ex-Vatican diplomat, who served in Hong Kong, admits possessing child porn

He said social media and other parts of today’s digital world are signs of progress in science that help people communicate, but noted: “It’s not my world”.


With this usefulness come dangers and distractions such as music that get in the way of work, Francis said.

Over the past few decades, the Vatican has warned parishioners about the spread of pornography in the media, including in books, magazines, films, and on television.

In one May 1989 memo, the Vatican said people who watch pornography may be likely to exhibit the behaviour and attitudes from porn in real life.

Pope Francis. Photo: dpa

Even “soft core” pornography can desensitise people, the Vatican said at the time.

The church charged parents, educators, young people, religious groups and other organisations to try to curb pornography’s influence by telling producers, companies and public officials how they feel about the content.


A 2015 book developed by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops called the deliberate production or use of pornography a “mortal sin”.