“Pornography is a big struggle, but no one talks about it.”
That’s the head-turning message by a young Catholic priest who has launched a movement on social media.
Fr. Cassidy Stinson (a.k.a. @TheHappyPriest) is a newly ordained priest of the Diocese of Richmond with a penchant for social media. Convicted there’s value to digital community building, he puts a fair amount of time and energy into his well-curated profiles.
On July 27, he sent this tweet:
Such a direct approach might seem to some to come out of nowhere, but Fr. Cassidy explains, “I kept noticing patterns. Very early on in my assignment I found this sin would be a particular part of my ministry as a confessor. For a lot of young people, pornography is a big struggle but no one talks about it. The sense of isolation only intensifies their challenges.”In a 2016 survey, the Barna Group reports that 64% of young people (ages 13-24) seek out internet pornography once weekly or more. To Fr. Cassidy, that statistic is no surprise. He says, “No one is talking about something that’s endemic. If other sins were as big a problem, we’d be taking bigger steps. But because there’s so much shame attached to viewing pornography, no one wants to address it.”
So Fr. Cassidy started talking … well, tweeting. “I wanted to start a conversation,” he insists. “The internet can be a place for that dialogue.” In his view, “The key is taking away the isolation and despair that people fall into. I hope that people who discover #BreakTheChains, can see that social media is not all bad. Social media can be a vehicle for growth in holiness. I’ve been convinced of this by the Pauline family.”
The importance of using the media to spread positive news and build up other Christians was the impetus of Bl. James Alberione, founder of the Society of St. Paul and the Daughters of St. Paul. Fr. Cassidy’s admiration for Alberione and the Pauline family led him to become more involved in media evangelization.
Though conversation and community-building is important, prayer is the heart of the #BreakTheChains movement. “On day one, people started asking for prayer requests and a number of people have begun to share their own stories,” Fr. Cassidy says. “A new confidence has begun to be built and shared. People have repeatedly attested that having a community to pray with is the most helpful thing they’ve ever had.”
And follow Fr. Cassidy here.