“I am struggling with an
addiction to internet porn,” reads an e-mail from someone named Kemi.
“And by the grace of God I have become totally disgusted with this
bondage in which I find myself, and from which I am helpless to get
“I have NO control,”
another man writes about the same problem. “I have to be on this
computer for business and yet to push the wrong button is so easy! I
get lazy . . . and then its so easy to listen to Satan. Thank you
for the courage to start this ministry. I feel like you are
These are just a few of the
e-mails received on a new Catholic web site called PornNoMore.com.
Created by Paul Rasavage of Maple Falls, Washington, the idea came
while battling his own addiction to pornography.
Rasavage, a Catholic, was
attending Sexaholics Anonymous (SA) at the time and found himself
missing the sacramental aspects in faith dimension of the SA
program. He began to mull over the idea of starting a support group
for Catholic men and women that emphasized the sacraments and prayer
as a way to overcome this ravaging addiction.
Like so many others,
Rasavage’s first exposure to pornography occurred at the age of five
when he discovered pornographic magazines hidden in the bureau of
his uncle’s bedroom. Because the magazines were hidden, he knew they
were somehow forbidden, which only made them more attractive. “Porn
became the forbidden fruit,” he said, “a secret place to hide, to
take refuge and seek relief from the world’s cares and personal
By the time he reached
adolescence, conflicting messages about the use of pornography from
the pulpit and society brought him confusion rather than clear
direction. “Most of society looked on pornography as something
benign and harmless. Hugh Hefner was busy elevating it to the level
of social prominence and acceptability . . . . Most of us thought,
“Nobody’s fighting back. It must be okay.’”
It wasn’t. The
proliferation of pornography went on to reach epidemic proportions.
A March 2000 Zogby poll reported that one in four American men seek
sexual fulfillment on internet porn sites.
Almost a third (31 percent)
of children aged 10-17 from households with computers said they have
seen pornographic web sites.
The Attorney General
Commission on pornography found that 12 -17 year old boys are among
the highest consumer group of pornography. Even more alarming is a
1997 report from the Internet Online Summit revealing that an
appalling 70 percent of children who view pornography on the
Internet do so in public schools and libraries.
Not only is porn
corrupting, it’s also dangerous to society. There has long been a
well-proven link between crimes of rape, child and wife abuse, and
the use of pornography. For instance, the Los Angeles Police
Department in 1991 found that during in a period of ten years,
two-thirds of all child molestation cases involved pornography.
One of out of every six
persons in our federal and state prisons is a sex offender, and sex
crimes are second only to drug crimes. As long as ago as 1988, the
FBI reported that 81 percent of violent sex offenders regularly read
or viewed pornography.
In spite of these grim
statistics, a cavalier attitude about porn continues to pervade our
culture. “As an engineer working in today’s business climate, I
discovered that the occasional soiree into the local topless bar was
acceptable practice. . . .” Rasavage said. “Often, the manager was
part of the group in attendance, joking . . . that we were there to
‘interview secretarial candidates.’ We all fell into satan’s
Rasavage sank deeper into
his vice. “Over the years, the content of pornography became more
and more extreme. The fundamental principle of any addiction is the
need for more and more of the drug in order to achieve the same
level of ‘high.’ Pornography is that drug. And for the sexual
addict, our drug is also required in ever stronger and more potent
In the meantime, he had
gotten married and started a family. “The idea that any of this was
harmful to me, to my wife and children, to my marriage, didn’t even
cross my mind. But deep down, I knew . . . . it was wrong. God
worked on me . . . leading me to recognize the depths of depravity
and addiction to which I had fallen. I had convinced myself that I
was a good Catholic family man.” Although he gave the outward
appearance of being a decent husband and loving father, on the
inside, “I was a mess.”
Eventually, he hit rock
bottom. “I reached a much more serious level of addiction than I had
ever known before and it frightened me. I hated myself for what I
had become. I realized two things: First, I needed to stop, and
second, I couldn’t do it alone. I was truly helpless.”
He spoke to his parish
priest who recommended the 12-step program, Sexaholics Anonymous.
Even though there is a strong spiritual aspect to the program,
Rasavage felt like something was missing - the sacraments.
One night, he and his
family were watching a movie about a young Catholic man named
Alessandro Serenelli whose use of porn and alcohol landed him in
prison by the age of 20.
Serenelli had attempted to
rape an eleven year old girl named Maria Goretti. When she refused
his advances, he stabbed her to death. She lived for twenty four
hours after the assault, long enough to tell a priest, “I forgive
him and I want him to be with me in Paradise one day.”
During the eighth year of
his confinement, the unrepentant Serenelli had a remarkable dream.
Maria appeared to him, dressed in immaculate white robes. At first,
he tried to flee, but she began to hand him beautiful white lilies,
one by one, and entreated in a soft voice, “Take them!” He accepted
the flowers, and as he did, the blooms changed into flaming lights
that seemed to pierce his very soul. Before the dream ended, she had
handed him fourteen flowers, one for each stab wound he had
inflicted upon her. Just before departing, she said, “As I have
promised, your soul shall someday reach me in heaven.”
As he watched her go, a
profound contentment washed over his heart, cleansing it of all the
lust, hatred, violence and despair. From that moment on, Alessandro
Serenelli was completely converted.
connected with Serenelli. “If someone as corrupt and degenerate as
Alessandro Serenelli can be converted and saved, so can any of us. .
. . For that reason, I felt it was completely appropriate to name
our apostolate the Serenellians, after him. His manifest example
goes to prove that God always turns evil into an even greater good.”
Rasavage knew it was time
to start his own Catholic group and decided that they claim
Alessandro as their mentor. Calling themselves the Serenellians,
members dedicate themselves, through prayer and work, to combating
the evils of pornography. There are no dues or fees of any kind,
just the commitment to “spiritually serve the suffering souls who
are wallowing in the mire of impurity. . . .”
Rasavage is currently
looking for a priest who is “internet savvy, perhaps semi-retired,
who has experience in guidance and counseling addicts and who would
be willing to fill the role of spiritual director for the
Only God knows how many
more Alessandro Serenellis can be found in the dark recesses of this
vice. “I wish to be pure. I wish to be holy,” writes Eric, an
unknown visitor to PornNoMore.com. I wish to be so in love with God,
that my addiction is broken.”
The harvest is definitely