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NLR deacon helps bishops fight pornography, trafficking

Deacon Fred Molina, recognized for efforts, brings work to state

Published: November 24, 2023   
Courtesy Deacon Fred Molina
Deacon Fred Molina gives a presentation on pornography and human trafficking to a parish in the Diocese of Orlando Mar. 8, 2019.

In 2019, Pope Francis condemned human trafficking as “one of the most dramatic manifestations of the commercialization of the other, a crime against humanity that disfigures both the victims as well as those who carry it out.”

Deacon Fred Molina agrees, and for the past 17 years, he has worked with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to educate the Church community about the dangers of pornography and human trafficking. 

Molina was ordained in 1999 in the Diocese of Rockville Centre on Long Island in New York. In 2004 he moved to Florida after retiring from the U.S. Postal Service and felt God calling him in a new direction.

“As you know in life, God assigns a mission to us,” Molina said. “And I feel that this is the mission he’s assigned me to do.”

At a deacons’ meeting in the Diocese of Orlando in 2010, a presenter talked about the dangers of pornography and human trafficking to the value and dignity of human life. Then-Bishop Thomas Wenski wanted the deacons to spearhead a diocesan effort to address the issue. 

“I wanted to get involved but didn’t know how because a year went by and I didn’t hear any updates,” Molina said. “I spoke to the head of the diaconate, and he told me, ‘Fred, I’ve got so much on my plate that I can’t even start it. And I don’t want to start something I can’t finish. But if you want to do it, you’re welcome to.’”

Molina and three other deacons started the Diocese of Orlando Human Trafficking Task Force, which soon grew to 80 members. Task force volunteers gave presentations in English, Spanish and Portuguese across central Florida in partnership with several nonprofits. 

In 2017, Molina won the Polaris Star Award for his achievements in the fight against human trafficking. The Polaris Project, which presents the award, has operated the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline since 2007. Additionally, the Diocese of Orlando Human Trafficking Task Force won the 2018 Community Polaris Star Award, with Molina receiving the Distinguished Service Award that same year. 

At the same time, the USCCB began fortifying for the fight against human trafficking. The USCCB Migration and Refugee Services uses the Diocese of Orlando’s Task Force as a model for other dioceses to follow. (See sidebar)

Molina said pornography often fans the flames of human trafficking. 

“Over 60 percent of those who are being filmed and photographed in pornography are human trafficking victims,” Molina said. “A lot of people feel like watching pornography is OK and that it’s not causing any harm. I let them know that every time you watch pornography, you are supporting human trafficking because a lot of the individuals in those videos and pictures are human trafficking victims.”

Molina said it is crucial for parents to educate their children about the dangers of pornography and human trafficking before the wrong person tries to create the narrative for their children. 

“Some parents are afraid to let their kids hear about pornography and human trafficking because they want to protect them,” Molina said. “But the thing is, that’s what the traffickers and pedophiles want — for the kids not to be informed. They become easy targets. That’s why traffickers are training kids in high schools and middle schools to look for kids who are alone, who are having family problems, to groom them.”

Tomas J. Lares, one of the co-founders and current chairman of the Greater Orlando Human Trafficking Task Force, said there is a connection between pornography and human trafficking.

“Pornography's link to human trafficking is that it fuels the demand for human trafficking directly and indirectly by those individuals who take their fantasy of what they are viewing into reality of buying sex,” Lares said. “The buying of sex can manifest into going overseas or exploitation of minors here in the USA. Also, there is the reality that many in the porn industry have been coerced with false promises and then forced to do porn with little or no pay.”

Molina moved to Little Rock in 2021 and is assigned to St. Anne Church in North Little Rock. He’s continuing the fight against pornography and human trafficking here in Arkansas.

“It exists all over the place,” Molina said. “It’s out there, and if you’re not aware of it you can’t spot it.”

Molina attended the Arkansas Human Trafficking Summit Oct. 16-17 at the Statehouse Convention Center. The summit set out with the intention of raising awareness of the issue of human trafficking through education and training while providing the resources necessary to combat it. Speakers such as Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Attorney General Tim Griffin spoke at several of the plenary sessions during the two-day summit. 

Molina plans to continue raising awareness within the Diocese of Little Rock.

“We need not only schools but catechist teachers to know about this so they can be aware of the dangers that are happening within their own parish,” Molina said. “Many victims are afraid to speak up. They need to know that, besides law enforcement, the community is behind them to protect them.”

Molina understands the role that addiction can play in pornography consumption. He encourages anyone who needs help, information or resources to contact him at or Mark Ives at .

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