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Scandal (theology)

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In Catholic theology, scandal is a behavior or attitude that leads another to sin.

In order to qualify as scandalous, the behavior must, in itself, be evil or give the appearance of evil. To do a good act or an indifferent act, even knowing that it will inspire others to sin — as when a student studies diligently to do well, knowing it will cause envy — is not scandalous. Again, to ask someone to commit perjury is scandalous, but for a judge to require witnesses to give an oath even when he knows the witness is likely to commit perjury is not scandalous.

It does not require that the other person actually commit sin; to be scandalous, it suffices that the act is of a nature to lead someone to sin.

Active scandal is performed by a person; passive scandal is the reaction of a person to active scandal (scandal given or scandalum datum), or to acts which, because of the viewer's ignorance, weakness, or malice, are regarded as scandalous (scandal received or scandalum acceptum).

Scandal is performed with the intention of inducing someone to sin. Urging someone to commit a sin is therefore active scandal. In the case where the person urging the sin is aware of its nature and the person he is urging is ignorant, the sins committed are the fault of the person who urged them.

Scandal is also performed when someone performs an evil act, or an act that appears to be evil, knowing that it will lead others into sin. (In case of an apparently evil act, a sufficient reason for the act despite the faults it will cause negates the scandal.)

Scandal may also be incurred when an innocent act may be an occasion of sin to the weak, but such acts should not be foregone if the goods at stake are of importance.

The Biblical basis of scandal is the prohibition of putting a stumbling block before the blind[1]: "stumbling block" is the literal meaning of σκανδαλον in Greek. For the analogous concept in Judaism, see Lifnei iver.

External links

  1. Leviticus 19:14

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