Scandal is the word that keeps coming to mind as our new Catholic president continues to flout in a major way the faith he professes to hold. First, what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say about this sin:
Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil. The person who gives scandal becomes his neighbor’s tempter. He damages virtue and integrity; he may even draw his brother into spiritual death. Scandal is a grave offense if by deed or omission another is deliberately led into a grave offense.CCC 2284
Turning to Scripture (as all of us should do often), these verses jump immediately to mind regarding the matter of scandal:
[Jesus] said to his disciples, “Things that cause sin will inevitably occur, but woe to the person through whom they occur. It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.”Luke 17:1-2
As is often the case in my daily reading, Bede Jarrett in Classic Catholic Meditations, in a section called “Avoid giving bad example,” provides wonderful insight on a matter of particular relevance regarding the matter at hand:
To a very large extent, from the very nature of human existence, I must live in the full view of my fellows, who are quick to repeat as well as watch, and who will find in my age, or better education, or higher position, or Catholic belief, a justification or excuse for imitating my shortcomings.p. 175 (emphasis mine)
As it turns out today’s email from The Catholic Thing (which was an egregious omission from the list of Catholic websites in my last post), Hadley Arkes’s piece hits on the issue of scandal and the bishops’ response to the new Chief Executive. A key excerpt:
What I’ve wished for years for the bishops to say to the Bidens and Cuomos is something in this vein: “We cannot presume to instruct you on your job, but the problem now is that you are creating ‘scandal.’ You are seriously mis-instructing many Catholics on the teaching of their own Church, and in that way sapping the convictions that sustain that teaching. We would not make heavy demands on you, but we would plead simply that you ‘do no harm.’”
Finally, I just received this short article from the always insightful Phil Lawler, similarly themed. A taste:
If our bishops take disciplinary action against politicians who flout Church moral teachings, they will undoubtedly be unpopular. There will be outraged editorials, angry demonstrations outside the chancery, maybe even large contributions withdrawn. But truly courageous bishops—shepherds who cared about the souls of their wayward sheep—would accept those costs.
I have said it before but can’t repeat it enough. Pray frequently for the conversion of the president and our beloved nation.