Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Archdiocese of Houston: What is Scandal?
Last week, an episode of the Vortex, “Houston, We Have a Problem”, examined a scandalous event that took place in Houston. Michael Voris reported:
A short while ago, Houston’s Cardinal Daniel DiNardo sent shockwaves of scandal throughout the Church – shockwaves by the way that the archdiocese of Houston flat out denies.
Here’s the quick background: [on] May 28, an event called a "service of commissioning and ordination" occurred at the Co-Cathedral conducted by Methodist Bishop Janice R. Huie. We called and talked with the Chancellor of the archdiocese, Bishop George Sheltz, who confirmed for us directly that Cardinal DiNardo had approved this personally. He said that “bishop” Janice is someone he works with closely and when she called and said, “Hey, can we use your cathedral for our ceremony to ‘ordain’ our clergy?”, the Cardinal was more than happy to oblige.
Moreover, when we asked Bishop Sheltz if the Cardinal had asked others in the chancery for their input, he said he had, and they all agreed unanimously – no one thought a thing about it.
So let’s get all this clear, shall we: a fake ceremony by a fake bishop – who is a woman bishop – fakely ordaining a lay person to a fake position of being a fake priest is allowed to occur inside the sanctuary of a Catholic cathedral.
One Vortex viewer told CMTV that he had spoken directly with Cardinal DeNardo regarding the scandal this kind of thing causes:
Just talked with Cardinal DiNardo for 15mins on the phone. He made the decision andsees nothing wrong with what he did. I mentioned the fact that the Methodists are pro-gay "marriage" and pro-abortion. He didn't seem to care. Considered the action to be "ecumenical hospitality" to promote "goodwill" with the Protestants. I told him that he has created scandal. He said "sorry you're scandalized”, but I responded "it's not just me…it's many young adults." I suggested he give a public explanation for his actions. He said "well they are your friends, so you tell them." I said, "I definitely will, but I think it would be appropriate for you to do it yourself, publicly, so that I don't misrepresent anything you told me." He said he'd consider my advisement.
First of all, if we believe the viewer’s report (and I have no reason to doubt it, personally), then we might be appalled that a cardinal would speak in this manner. I know I am appalled…though, I must confess, I am not surprised. Similar comments have been made to me by other prelates.
Back to the actual topic of this post, though: I have thought about “scandal” a lot over the last few years, because it is a term thrown about that really has a couple of different meanings. I get a little confused about what we mean when we talk about “scandalizing the faithful”. So here I go, thinking out loud…
Here’s the dictionary definition of scandal:
1 a : discredit brought upon religion by unseemly conduct in a religious person
b : conduct that causes or encourages a lapse of faith or of religious obedience in another
2 : loss of or damage to reputation caused by actual or apparent violation of morality or propriety : disgrace
3 a : a circumstance or action that offends propriety or established moral conceptions or disgraces those associated with it
b : a person whose conduct offends propriety or morality <a scandal to the profession>
4 : malicious or defamatory gossip
5 : indignation, chagrin, or bewilderment brought about by a flagrant violation of morality, propriety, or religious opinion
Some examples of scandal were given at the same website, including these:
There was a major scandal involving the mayor's ties with the Mob.
Government officials were caught in an embezzlement scandal.
Her behavior caused a scandal at school.
The gossip magazine is filled with rumors and scandal.
All of those examples focus on the reaction of people who are already aware of “right” vs. “wrong” behavior.
Now let’s look at the definition of scandal given in the Cathechism of the Catholic Church (I’ve done a little editing for brevity):
2284 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.
2285 Scandal takes on a particular gravity by reason of the authority of those who cause it or the weakness of those who are scandalized…Scandal is grave when given by those who by nature or office are obliged to teach and educate others. Jesus reproaches the scribes and Pharisees on this account: he likens them to wolves in sheep's clothing.
2287 Anyone who uses the power at his disposal in such a way that it leads others to do wrong becomes guilty of scandal and responsible for the evil that he has directly or indirectly encouraged. "Temptations to sin are sure to come; but woe to him by whom they come!"
Seems to me, the secular dictionary definition of scandal focuses primarily on the dismay felt by those witnessing or hearing about something they know to be morally wrong.
But the definition of scandal in the Catechism (2284 through 2287) seems to be summed up by the statement that "Anyone who uses the power at his disposal in such a way that it leads others to do wrong becomes guilty of scandal and responsible for the evil that he has directly or indirectly encouraged" (2287).
In other words, a person who is "scandalized" in the sense of the common dictionary definition would not be led to do wrong, because his morals are already offended; he knows right from wrong. A person who is "scandalized" in the CCC sense of the word doesn't know right from wrong in a particular case, and is led astray by an authority figure who sets a wrong example.
For instance, if we say that the action of Cardinal DiNardo in allowing the Methodists to use the Co-Cathedral (first I ever heard of THAT term!) for an "ordination" ceremony is "scandalous", do we mean that it caused outrage among the faithful who believe that this was an inappropriate use of the Cathedral? Or do we mean that the action caused many of the faithful to now believe that it's okay to "loan" the Cathedral to Protestants because "we're all Christians" or some such reasoning? Or do we mean both? People have been outraged, but the Archdiocese of Houston says that since only 4 people called to complain, that does not constitute a "scandal". On the other hand, if the rest of the Catholics in that archdiocese are not complaining, it may be that THEY are the scandalized ones: they think that since Cardinal DiNardo allowed it, it must be okay.
Michael Voris concludes the Vortex episode with this note:
When I asked about scandal [Bishop Seltz] said, “There are over a million Catholics here, and I’ve only received four phones calls – I don’t consider that a scandal.
It seems to me that the faithful who are truly scandalized - who are being led astray by the actions of Church leaders, for example - don't even realize that they are "scandalized" - they don't know they have been misled.
So… if the vast majority of the faithful in the Archdiocese of Houston don’t see anything wrong with the Cathedral being used for a Methodist “ordination” ceremony, perhaps there is more true scandal present that the Cardinal or the Chancellor of that archdiocese realize. Have the faithful there been led away from the truth without even knowing it?
Here's the Vortex; the script is available here.