PROVIDENCE — Matt Fradd, an internationally known Catholic apologist and chastity speaker, will offer a Lenten Mission at McVinney Auditorium on Thursday, March 15. The event, intended for youth and young adults, will be offered free of charge due to a generous donor and will address the role of human sexuality and chastity in the present culture.
“The basic idea of this is to communicate the virtue of chastity and why it’s a good idea and why it makes us happy,” Fradd told Rhode Island Catholic during a phone interview last week.
Fradd, who spoke in the Diocese of Providence in 2015, is the author of “The Porn Myth: Exposing the Reality Behind the Fantasy of Pornography” and “Does God Exist? A Socratic Dialogue on the Five Ways of Thomas Aquinas.” He is also the creator of the podcasts, “Love People Use Things” and “Pints with Aquinas.” His work focuses in particular on the dangers of pornography both as a moral issue and as a threat to physical and mental health.
“There’s a lot that the world gives and promotes, and there’s a love that God is calling us to, and one sort of appears to make us happy,” he said. “That’s sort of the false promise that we can have sexual pleasure without commitment.”
Fradd, who has previously worked with NET ministries and Catholic Answers, said he saw the need for a ministry focusing on chastity and pornography when he realized the prevalence of pornography consumption, especially among middle school students and teens. He views mainstream acceptance of pornography in today’s culture as one of the greatest challenges to preaching the gospel.
“I think if we want to have any hope of conversion, we have to deal with some of these major obstacles that are preventing that, and I think this is one of the biggest,” he said.
While its moral challenges are clear, Fradd said pornography isn’t simply a religious issue. Several states have recognized its public health risks, and celebrities and activists are beginning to speak out about its impact on relationships and ties to human trafficking and aggression toward women.
“I feel like we’ve reached a tipping point in our culture,” he said. “I think many people are seeing the real effects in their own lives in terms of breaking down relationships. We’re becoming familiar with the prevalence of sexual trafficking. I think we’re really starting to have a real discussion about this.”
In addition to Thursday evening’s Lenten Mission, Fradd will offer presentations at Bishop Hendricken High School and the diocesan Faith Formation Convocation on Saturday, March 17. Thursday’s presentation is hosted by the Offices of Catholic Youth Ministry, Faith Formation and Family Life.
“It certainly is a timely topic with the prevalence of a permissiveness regarding sexual behavior in our current society,” said Louise Dussault, director of the Office of Catholic Youth Ministry.
Due to the sensitive nature of the topics, Dussault said the presentation is best suited for high school students and young adults and recommended that parents of middle schoolers consider attending with their child. While the event is free, she strongly encouraged registering in advance.
“I think he gives a powerful message for young and old – if nothing else, to foster conversations outside once the presentation is done,” she said. “Sometimes it’s too easy to buy into a culture that says anything goes without carefully examining the consequences of that behavior.”
For more information about Thursday’s Lenten Mission or to register, please visit www.mcvinneyauditorium.org.