How Two Catholics Are Fighting Military Porn Addiction

By Dustin Siggins Published on October 20, 2016

Marine Captain Jerome Lademan is a practicing Catholic. He’s also addicted to pornography, a challenge he says faces a large number of Catholic servicemembers — and one he is fighting head-on along with the founders of a military-focused, anti-porn non-profit.

The Heroic Virtue Warfare Institute (HVWI) [was] started by three active duty military officers to help combat porn addiction in the military,” Lademan told The Stream. The group, which was founded in 2014 and is independent of the military, partners with anti-porn counselor and advocate Dr. Peter Kleponis. “Dr. Kleponis has been so generous with his time and expertise which have helped make this exciting resource a reality,” he said

Air Force Advocate General Ken Artz told The Stream that porn viewership among servicemembers is a “public health crisis,” and that he hopes HVWI can “help Catholic military members overcome their pornography consumption.”

How The Heroic Virtue Warfare Institute Helps

“HVWI’s main line of effort has been to get into these military member’s hands practical … materials that will help servicemembers overcome their use so it doesn’t control their life and negatively affect their relationships,” continued Artz. “To date, through donations, we have created and donated, 150 ‘Heroic Virtue Smartpacks’ containing a plethora of information to help one overcome their addiction.”

Lademan told Catholic Exchange (CE) that the Smartpacks have “various resources ranging from pamphlets on sexual addiction to the story of St. Maria Goretti to CDs from Jason Evert and Fr. Larry Richards, and even a scapular and rosary.”

Artz described the Smartpack as having ”educational, spiritual and supernatural guidance on how to use all the tools of the Catholic Church to fight the temptation to view pornography and break the grip it has on their life.”

One counselor who uses the Smartpacks is Father Rory Pitstick. An Air National Guard chaplain and instructor of seminarians at Mt. Angel Seminary, Pitstick told The Stream that he uses the Smartpack in his work among both groups.

He said that the addictive nature of porn has been widely prevalent during his five years as chaplain. “I hardly recall a time that any porn use reported didn’t degenerate into addictive use,” he explained. Pitstick also emphatically stated that he has never seen a positive outcome from pornography. “Not in any way whatsoever,” he said.

Struggling With Porn

Lademan told CE that his struggle began when he was 15, when he used his father’s computer to look up “explicit terms” he had heard at school. Thirteen years later, he is still fighting, both for himself and those around him — he explained that “when I’m using pornography on a regular basis, I become selfish, sensitive, proud and prone to anger. This happens to the point that I can actually tell a major difference in the way I treat those around me.”

“I was in a serious relationship a few years ago that I ended up breaking off,” he continued. “One of the main reasons was the pain I was causing because of my addiction. I did some soul searching and realized that I had to [do] something.”

HVWI was the result of that search and a meeting between Lademan and Artz. The group was created “to build a culture of respect for one another that acknowledges the dignity and beauty of each and every human being.”

Lademan told The Stream that “something has to be done about” porn, “especially for our troops. To fight porn is to fight sexual exploitation. Because this is exactly what pornography is. It is the art of presenting images of the human body so that others can use them for sexual gratification.”

“By using pornography, the man is basically saying it is OK to view a woman as an object of his pleasure. It accustoms the person to accepting deviant sexual behavior. Not only that, but since porn presents abusive behavior, it trains the mind through continued use, that it is fine to treat women in this manner.” Lademan cited a study that found “porn use can lead to a 22% greater risk for committing sexual offences,” which he said “leads to an increasingly violent and abusive culture.”

“Through processing countless sexual assault cases in the military courts, Artz has discovered … that porn use is a prime cause that propels these young men down that violent path [of sexual assault],” explained Lademan. “A life focused on pleasing and stimulating ones’ self through pornographic images and behavior is very lonely. It is like a black hole that demands more and more without ever giving the happiness that it promises.”

Editor’s Note: Lademan and Artz spoke on the condition that their commentary represented themselves and HVWI, and not the Department of Defense or any other government entities or government employers.

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