The M+G+R Foundation

The Prevention of Scandal Within a Church

Clarifying Possible Misconceptions


The purpose of this document is to shed some light on a fundamental issue of Catholicism and other Christian denominations: What is really meant by “not to give/cause scandal” within a Church as well as why scandal should be avoided.


“Scandal” is any behavior/acts/words that may negatively affect another human being’s journey to the Ultimate Goal – God. We may classify this into three distinct categories:

(a) Scandal that drives the faithful away from God;

(b) Scandal which may neutralize certain Church teachings by association with scandalous practice/teaching/example; and

(c) Scandal resulting from different levels of spiritual advancement amongst the faithful.


(a) Scandal that drives the faithful away from God

This example shows how a scandalous behavior may drive the faithful away from God OR draw him closer to God; depending on how it is handled.

A religious representative takes sexual advantage of a member of the flock. This may be “transitory” scandal depending on what the religious representative’s superior does upon finding out of what has taken place.

If the religious superior immediately takes action to make the necessary spiritual amends with the victim and insures that the offender will not be given another opportunity to do the same, the “transitory” scandal becomes an “incident” which the victim will easily identify with an individual and not with an institution or with God. The example of rectitude and justice set by the superior will ultimately draw the victim closer to God and the church in question.

If, in the same example, the religious superior denies the fact of the transgression and makes any attempt to cover up the event (as it is normally done), then we are facing a major and devastating scandal. A scandal which will severely damage the victim psychologically AND spiritually, and drive the victim away from God.

(b) Scandal which may neutralize certain church teachings by association with scandalous practice/teaching/example.

Unfortunately, these are of many varieties. Just a few examples...

1. “Purchased” annulments of marriages (1);

2. A declared invalid marriage honored by a Papal visit and Blessing (2);

3. If it is in the best interests of the Church Administration, the endorsement, Blessing and support of murderous dictatorial regimes (far too many to list);

4. The above referenced behavior of Cardinal Arinze – which is reflected through the entire Church Administration;

5. Live in the lap of luxury and preach poverty from the pulpit (3);

6. A thinly disguised priest’s girlfriend or boyfriend;

etc. ad nauseum

(c) Scandal resulting from different levels of spiritual development amongst the faithful.

This is best exemplified by a passage in the New Testament. A situation that all of us must be very careful to avoid since it is not intrinsically evil. Not being intrinsically evil, it is not “tagged” in our brain as something to avoid because its potential harm depends on one’s company at the moment.

That is, what you may do/say in the company of, say, Mrs. X may be perfectly fine; but, if you do/say it in the company of Mr. Y, it would convey the wrong information/teaching/example and cause harm.

The following Biblical example will shed much light on this:

1 Corinthians 8:4-13

Concerning the eating then of the things sacrificed to idols, we have known that an idol [is] nothing in the world, and that there is no other God except one; for even if there are those called gods, whether in heaven, whether upon earth —as there are gods many and lords many— yet to us [is] one God, the Father, of whom [are] the all things, and we to Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom [are] the all things, and we through Him; but not in all men [is] the knowledge, and certain with conscience of the idol, till now, as a thing sacrificed to an idol do eat [it], and their conscience, being weak, is defiled.

But victuals do not commend us to God, for neither if we may eat are we in advance; nor if we may not eat, are we behind; but see, lest this privilege of yours may become a stumbling block to the infirm, for if any one may see thee that hast knowledge in an idol’s temple reclining at meat – shall not his conscience – he being infirm – be emboldened to eat the things sacrificed to idols, and the brother who is infirm shall perish by thy knowledge, because of whom Christ died? and thus sinning in regard to the brethren, and smiting their weak conscience – in regard to Christ ye sin; wherefore, if victuals cause my brother to stumble, I may eat no flesh —to the age— that my brother I may not cause to stumble.

In a nutshell: Eating meat that may have been offered to an idol means nothing to a Christian – does not defile nor cause harm unless “that my brother I may cause to stumble” because of a misunderstanding arisen due to “the brother who is infirm” in the faith.

This is an area within which, at times, feel like a mine field to miguel de Portugal. Through these pages he speaks to a most varied audience – varied in type of Faith or lack thereof, and varied in spiritual development and depth of Faith. He transmits/reflects illumination which may be liberating to some or may be blinding to others – depending on the stage of their spiritual development. Then, what to do? Quit? Of course not!

The answer is the same that we keep offering: Resort to God!... and trust that He “modulates the light” in accordance to each of His children’s needs.

(1) The Sacrament of Matrimony
(2) Note dated May 22, 2004 in The Sacrament of Matrimony document
(3) Cardinal Law, et al, Life Styles

Related Documents

The Sacrament of Reconciliation

The Infallible Guidance by the Holy Spirit

Do Not Despair / Do Not EVER Give Up!

Follow Me – There IS NO BETTER Way!

Jesus Christ Has Condemned the Roman Catholic Church Administrators

Will You Join Me in the Redemptive Effort of Mankind?

Do Not Waste Your Time and Mine in Fruitless Activities – Just Pray and Live My Gospel!

God Spoke Frequently to Us Through the Dates of World Wars I and II. See For Yourself How Deaf Mankind Is!

En Español:  Prevención de Escándalo dentro de una Iglesia

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