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American Catholic Bishops and Yet Another Scandal

By Judie Brown

Over the past 30 years or so, there appears to have been a shift in the way Catholic bishops in America handle things that were at one time deemed scandalous.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that

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.

While we cannot know with certainty that a particular deed or omission will lead another into the commission of a grave offense, we can know that the Catholic Church should never be perceived as giving public acceptance to any individual at any time who has, by virtue of his public actions, embraced a gravely sinful act—such as abortion—as something other than what it is.

To put it simply, when a Catholic institution provides a platform for someone who embraces and condones abortion, there is the potential for scandal.

We see examples of occasions of scandal in two recent events involving Catholic institutions: the appearance of Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards at Georgetown University and the awarding of the prestigious Laetare Medal by the University of Notre Dame to a totally pro-abortion Catholic, Vice President Joseph Biden.

CecileAbortionRichards will appear in April at Georgetown at the request of the student-run Lecture Fund. Georgetown has become synonymous over the years with some questionable names, including its law school graduate Sandra Fluke, who is a reproductive rights (pro-abortion) activist. The list could go on, but the point is obvious. Georgetown may claim to be Catholic, but one wonders.

The same kind of sketchy history abides in the annals of Notre Dame’s past, including the appearance of President Obama as a commencement speaker and recipient of an honorary law degree. At that event, pro-life protesters were arrested for voicing their concern over the presence of a pro-abortion public figure—the president of the United States—on a Catholic campus at an event as important as the graduation ceremony.

Something is certainly wrong with this picture.

It occurs to me that, given the nature of these recent events and the credibility of institutions of higher learning that identify as Catholic while pandering to the culture of death, American bishops might want to take a page out of the biblical history of Christ and the response He received from the hypocrites.

In the Gospel of Luke, Christ went among the people in the synagogue to preach truth. The people in the synagogue became enraged and drove him out of their town and to the brow of a hill where they intended to push him off. But Christ passed through them unharmed. We must note that, during this period of time, Christ did not back down, nor did he apologize for the truth He preached.

By the same token, Catholics would be well served today if our bishops imitated Christ in matters that are the source of scandal. After all, if we examine the situation occurring at either Georgetown or Notre Dame we cannot help but be concerned that naïve souls will be damaged by these upcoming events. Such individuals may in fact come away with the impression that it is apparently fine with the Catholic Church if one supports abortion and still claims to identify himself as Catholic.

It is our fervent prayer that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops will address these troubling situations and issue an updated, unified statement based on its previous policy, which states: “The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”

In defense of truth and life, that is what we ask.

Today, American Life League is sending a request to each Catholic bishop that this policy be rigorously enforced.