Spooking Loyal Catholics

September 2000

More and more now, priests are unlawfully requiring the congregation to stand during the Consecration. What should loyal Catholics do? Obey Church law — and the prompting of their hearts — and kneel? Or obey the disobedient priests — and go with the flow — and stand?

This issue is addressed in an article by Philip C.L. Gray in the May Lay Witness (published by Catholics United for the Faith). Gray acknowledges that standing during the Consecration violates Church law, but first he discusses the general issue of “whether to obey” an unlawful demand: Disobedience to an unlawful demand, Gray warns, “could cause scandal, which is itself a sin (cf. Catechism, no. 2284).” So we looked up number 2284, which reads as follows: “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.” Good golly, Miss Molly! How could refusing to comply with an unlawful demand lead “another to do evil,” etc.?

So we proceeded to read the other three numbers on scandal in the Catechism (nos. 2285-87), which Gray omitted citing: “Scandal takes on a particular gravity by reason of the authority of those who cause it…. Scandal is grave when given by those who by nature or office are obliged to teach and educate others…. ‘Therefore, they are guilty of scandal who establish laws or social structures leading to…the corruption of religious practice…’ [Pius XII]. Anyone who uses the power at his disposal in such a way that it leads others to do wrong becomes guilty of scandal….” Aha! If scandal is at issue here, it is caused, not by the layman who kneels but by the priest who demands standing. Quite the opposite of what Gray seems to be trying to tell us!

Gray goes on to say: “If a priest demands that the congregation stand during the consecration…. the priest is wrong to do this. However…. before refusing to obey, one should consider the consequences and avoid sin in all its forms, particularly sins associated with detraction (cf. Catechism, no. 2479) and scandal.”

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New Oxford Notes: September 2000

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