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Scandal Spelled Out

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Sep 04, 2009

 Responding to my Commentary article on the Kennedy funeral, reader Elizabeth Rhode Martin writes:

This is a wonderful article,very thorough, and I agree completely with your observations

However, my heart is wringing it's hands, if such were possible, because we have two grown children who are among those who would point to this as reason enough not to believe anymore. The actions of the two Bishops are more than disturbing, they help to lose souls.

Exactly. That's why I referred to the event as a scandal. Scandal, the Catechism teaches us (2284), is "an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil." You might say that scandal is the opposite of evangelization. Whereas evangelization brings people closer to Christ, scandal drives them further away. 

One fascinating and disturbing aspect of the debate roused by the Kennedy funeral is this: While many Catholics believe that the funeral itself was a scandal, many others-- equally sincere, I have no doubt-- believe that the real scandal is created by those of us raising objections to the funeral. There's plenty of righteous indignation on both sides of the aisle.

And to be fair, I understand the point that my adversaries are making. It doesn't bother me at all when people hear my arguments and grow angry with me; I can take it. But it troubles me when they hear my arguments and grown angry with the Catholic Church, because that anger is likely to lead them astray. 

To evangelize-- to proclaim the truth of Christ's Gospel, in season and out of season-- sometimes entails making unpopular statements. If the Church-- in Boston, Washington, and elsewhere-- had been more energetic in its evangelization over the course of the past generation, we wouldn't have so many young people growing cynical, concluding that there's no reason to take the teaching voice of the Church seriously. We certainly wouldn't have so many politicians so confused about their moral responsibilities that they believed they could advocate the slaughter of the unborn without violating their own consciences. 

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