Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Scandal

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Scandal

Article excerpt

SCANDAL By Angela Senander (Liturqical Press, 2012)

If asked to reflect on the word scandal, most Catholics would immediately think of the clerical sexual abuse scandal that continues to reverberate in both the church and the broader culture. This event corresponds well with a sociological understanding of scandal as an act or statement that leads to public shame and humiliation.

In her new book Scandal: The Catholic Church and Public Life, Angela Senander reminds us that scandal is also a theological concept. Its root is the Greek word skandalon, meaning stumbling block. The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines scandal as "an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil." Scandalous acts are those that make it harder for others to believe in God or to act rightly.

Senander observes that avoidance of scandal has become a major motivation for many recent actions by church leaders. The disciplining of theologians who dissent from church teaching and the denial of communion to pro-choice politicians are said to be justified by the fear that the broader community will embrace erroneous views of the faith. …

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