Catholic Dictionary




Disedifying morally weak persons by permissible conduct. Circumstances determine the duty in charity to avoid giving scandal to the weak. The existence of such a duty is clear from the teaching of St. Paul, who would not eat meat that had been offered to idols lest he scandalize the weaker brethren. He warned the early Christians not to rationalize their conduct but to follow his example, lest "by sinning in this way against our brothers and injuring their weak consciences, it would be Christ against whom you sinned" (I Corinthians 8:12). This obligation in charity is such that one may licitly refrain from fulfilling even a grave positive precept that is not necessary for salvation in order to prevent serious scandal to the weak. Behind the obligation is the mandate of selfless love that seeks not only to help another in obvious need but also by self-restraint to protect another from spiritual harm.