National Catholic Register
September 19, 2018
By E. Christian Brugger
DIFFICULT MORAL QUESTIONS: In Catholic theology, scandal is leading another to do evil by word or example.
Q. I’ve heard the term scandal used frequently during the present crisis: e.g., Archbishop Theodore McCarrick’s actions are “scandalous;” people are “scandalized” by the bishops’ inaction. But the term’s meaning is not always obvious to me. Could you please clarify the Catholic Church’s teaching on the sin of scandal?
A. In popular parlance, scandal often is used to refer to moral outrage. For example, a good priest might say, “The Catholic faithful are being scandalized by the conduct of their leaders.” Here, he is referring to the shock, anger and feelings of betrayal suffered by those who are surprised and disgusted to learn of their leaders’ complicity in wrongdoing.
But Catholic theology uses the term more precisely. Scandal is leading another to do evil by word or example.
Scandal is the great sin of churchmen in all ages, but especially in our day. So it is worth some concentrated attention.
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