By Christine M. Williams, Anchor Correspondent
STONEHAM, Mass. — Last month, Morality in Media recognized half a dozen Massachusetts honorees for their “outstanding effort to uphold Judeo-Christian values for the preservation of the family.” Among them were two Catholic groups — the local chapters of the Catholic Daughters of America and the Knights of Columbus. Morality in Media also celebrated the work of Massachusetts Citizens for Life, the Massachusetts Family Institute and state Representatives Jim Lyons and Jim Miceli.
The honorees received their certificates of recognition at a dinner, held at the Bear Hill Golf Club in Stoneham. Rita Covelle, Morality in Media’s local representative, said the honorees “deserve accolades” for perseverance in promoting traditional family values.
Many of the individuals who accepted those certificates expressed gratitude and said the honor was especially significant given the prestige of the awarding organization.
Anne Fox, president of MCFL, said the people at Morality in Media have worked tirelessly for many years. “They’re such a good group, and they do so much good work that we’re particularly honored for them to recognize us.”
Judi Shooter, state regent for the Massachusetts Catholic Daughters of the Americas, accepted the recognition on behalf of all of the group’s members and said that supporting families is central to their call as women of faith.
“As Catholic women with the Blessed Mother Mary as our patroness, we hold life Sacred and firmly believe that honoring life begins with the family unit,” she said.
Morality in Media was founded 51 years ago in New York by a Catholic priest, a Protestant minister and an Orthodox priest to promote decency in the media. The Massachusetts chapter’s highest priority is the safety and protection of children, according to its website. Among other things, the group lobbied against legislative bills that sought to mandate comprehensive sex education.
Kris Mineau, president of MFI, said there is a great need for organizations that uphold Godly standards, particularly with regard to human sexuality. Morality in Media opposes graphic sex education in public schools and pornography.
Mineau said there has been a “horrific explosion of pornography over the Internet” that is reaching children at an alarming rate.
“The average child now is around nine years old when they first see pornography on the Internet. The greatest danger are the smartphones,” he said.
In 2009, MFI released a report, “The Effects of Pornography on Individuals, Marriage, Family and Community,” that said pornography is a major threat to Marriage, family, children and individual happiness. Pornography distorts how individuals view sex, causing them to perceive sexual activity as harmless recreation.
In 2006, Bishop Paul Loverde of Arlington, Va. issued a pastoral letter that classified the mainstreaming of pornography as a “Spiritual battle.”
“This plague stalks the souls of men, women and children, ravages the bonds of Marriage and victimizes the most innocent among us. It obscures and destroys people’s ability to see one another as unique and beautiful expressions of God’s creation, instead darkening their vision, causing them to view others as objects to be used and manipulated,” he wrote.
MFI’s report stressed that many youth initially come across pornography on the Internet by accident. The report cited a study that found 70 percent of young people aged 15-17 were unintentionally exposed to online pornography. Another study found that 44 percent of youth do not disclose the accidental encounter of pornography to anyone else. Yet another survey found that unintended exposure caused youths to be 2.5 times more likely to intentionally seek pornography in the future.
Mineau said that regrettably, many parents do not realize how readily available pornography is online and even more fail to realize the harm that early viewing of pornography can cause.
“They just assume that the children can handle whatever they see, and, of course, nothing could be further from the truth,” said Mineau who recommends Internet filters and cell phones without cameras for teen-agers.
Patrick Trueman, president of Morality in Media, spoke at the dinner about the danger of early exposure to obscene material. According to Mineau, Trueman pointed out that, “We’re poisoning the minds of an entire generation.”
“What are we going to reap from this?” Mineau asked. “The mission of Morality in Media is more important than ever.”