There are plenty of scandals in the Catholic Church. Thus we read this: "Scandal in the Church...extends far beyond the sexual abuse of children by a tiny minority of priests. When homilists and confessors distort the moral teaching of the Church and lead others to believe that their sins are not truly sinful, they commit the sin of scandal.... When theology professors embitter their students against the Church's Magisterium, they commit the sin of scandal.... Those who commit liturgical abuses also commit the sin of scandal.... Women who dress immodestly commit the sin of scandal." How true this is! So reads a "Faith Facts" insert produced by Catholics United for the Faith in Lay Witness (Sept./Oct. 2004), which is itself the official publication of Catholics United for the Faith.
We also read this: "Those who, through harshness of speech, provoke others to anger commit the sin of scandal (cf. Catechism, no. 2286)." Whoa! Number 2286 does not say that. Indeed, the entire section on scandal (#2284-2287) does not say that. What's going on here? To the contrary, the section on scandal says this: "Jesus reproaches the scribes and Pharisees on this account: he likens them to wolves in sheep's clothing [referencing Mt. 7:15]" (#2285). What Jesus says here is certainly "harshness of speech." And we know that what Jesus said here and elsewhere most certainly did "provoke others to anger" against the Jews -- for 20 centuries. So, according to Catholics United for the Faith, Jesus committed "the sin of scandal." But that's impossible, for He was sinless.
Catholics United for the Faith (CUF) then tells us how to respond to scandal: "The first step in responding to scandals in the Church is to examine our own consciences and repent of our own acts of scandal." Nothing wrong with that.
But on their checklist of things to repent for is this: "Have I started uncharitable conversations and led others to sin against charity?" But what is uncharitable conversation? Would it be uncharitable to call people "fools," "extorters," "hypocrites," "liars," "vipers," "dogs," "swine," "sons of Hell"? That's pretty rough language, you might even say "uncharitable." But Jesus said all of that (see Mt. 12:34, 23:13-39; Lk. 11:40; Jn. 8:55). Are we Christians -- we sanctimonious Christians -- greater, more holy, than our Lord?
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