By Daniel Tay

Participants of "Porn Stars @ CANA", a series of talks, discussions and sharings on pornography, hope it will lead to serious action in the Singapore Archdiocese to combat the problem.


SINGAPORE - This is the first time that Catholics from different walks of life have come together to talk openly about the problem of pornography in Singapore society and among members of the Catholic community here.

Left, "It is important for parents to show children what relationships are about," said Keenan Tan (right in photo).

The sessions at CANA - The Catholic Centre on three consecutive Thursdays Mar 15, 22, and 29, were attended by persons who are addicted to pornography or know of someone who has a problem, or who are concerned about the problem generally or are just interested in the subject.

The first session on Mar 15 saw John Tan (name has been changed) make his first public confession about how he was drawn to pornography at the age of 13, how the Internet worsened his addiction, and how he was finally able to overcome it.

His honest sharing drew spontaneous reactions from several members of the audience to stand up and confess their own problems in dealing with pornography in their own lives.

The second session on Mar 22 saw Nicholas Chia (university undergraduate), Keenan Tan (parish youth worker), Simon and Frances Ess (parents), and Brother Michael Broughton (religious educator) share their own experiences of how pornography is present in the lives of the people they interact with, and how they address the problem.

The third session held on Mar 29 saw Sister Wendy Ooi, fsp (Catholic media), Father Philip Heng, SJ (formator of novices), John Ooi (vice-president of Family Life Society), and Louise (wife of a pornography addict) provide various perspectives of the problem and solutions.

Father Philip shared from his experiences as a Jesuit formator. He said that pornography destroys a person's ability to make commitments to a long-term relationship and that the solution was to help them live gospel values.

Augustine Anthuvan, who moderated the three sessions, emphasized that "if you do not check the pornography, it will lead to something worse".

John Ooi who gives talks on sexual ethics to schools and parishes shared a personal experience of how his son, after reading articles on pornography in CatholicNews, approached him and confessed that he too had been viewing pornography.

"I was not as safe as I thought I was, and this kind of surprised me," said Mr Ooi. "I believe that the problem is greater than naïve parents like me believe."

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What can be done


Right, Louise (left) wants to share her story to help others in a similar situation.

The three sessions saw members of the audience lament the lack of help to deal with this problem, but the discussions produced several viable suggestions on what can be done.

While there is some help available in Singapore, most do not know about it, and it was suggested a list of available help avenues be listed in Catholic publications. Increasing awareness of the problem in our Catholic community was also strongly encouraged. This could be done through exhibitions in public areas or in parishes.

The most pressing concern raised was the need to educate parents on the dangers of pornography, how to detect the possibility of the problem in their children, and how to address the problem when it arises.

Other ideas raised included:

- forming support groups formen and women whose spouses are addicted to pornography;

- asking Archbishop Nicholas Chia to write a pastoral letter on the subject to be read out at Masses at all parishes here;

- boycotting products that promote pornography through their advertisements and images;

- working with leaders of other religions in Singapore to deal with the problem on a societal level;

- forming a diocesan team to look into addressing the problem;

- getting parishes to invite the Family Life Society to give talks in their parishes about the dangers of pornography, and the purpose of human sexuality

- praying for pornography addicts.

Brother Michael Broughton put it best when he shared that he "assumed that every boy he encounters has viewed pornography" on a regular basis. However, he noted that "making an intervention (in the lives of those affected) is not reserved for the experts". On the contrary, "pornography is everyone's business", he added, because it affects the lives of everyone.

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Audience response

Terence Chua, 18, is a member of the Church of Christ the King's Theatre of God ministry, who attended all three sessions. He said that "pornography is rampant here" and that the sessions "answered all my questions" about pornography.

Edwin Rio, 40, a father of two said that the sessions have "opened my mind and broadened my horizons".

Monica Chua, 46, said, "Now I know what pornography is and how it affects relationships," she said. "I can educate my children and share this with other parents."

Patrick Goh, 52, found the sessions "enlightening", that "it is good that the church is now looking into it".

How you can get involved

Those who wish to obtain more information on pornography may visit for a list of websites, resources, and avenues in Singapore to turn to for help.

The fourth "Porn Stars @ CANA" session was a presentation of the Catholic Church's solution to the problem of pornography. Dr John Hui (Catholic Medical Guild) and moral theologian Father David Garcia gave an introduction to Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body, which explains the true meaning and purpose of human sexuality. It was held at CANA - The Catholic Centre on Thursday Apr 12, 7.15pm.

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