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Carlos Junqueira wrote:

Hi, guys—

I'm an 18-year-old guy from South America and my question is:

  • Does the sin of scandal always need reparation?

I converted to the Catholic Church some time ago but when I was an atheist, I used to do a lot of proselytizing trying to convert people to Atheism. I once even used that silly old dilemma:

"Could God create a rock so heavy he could not lift it?"

And one guy even said

"Yes, that's right!".

He wasn't saying that God could create the stone, instead he was just affirming that he couldn't answer the question. Perhaps he doubted the omnipotence of God.

The problem is that I haven't talked to this guy in years and I'm wondering if I have committed the sin of scandal, since the Catechism of St. Pio X (also known as Pope Saint Pius X) says that

  • "scandal is any word, act, or omission which is the occasion of another's committing sin"
    and that
  • "The scandal given can be remedied by removing the occasion of it and by edifying, by word and example, those whom we have scandalized".

The guy wasn't a religious person, and he probably doesn't even remember what I said that day, since it's been 2 or 3 years ago. I know I should say all this to my spiritual director or confessor, but in my town, there is no spiritual direction and confessions are very rare.


  { When I was an atheist, did I commit the sin of scandal and does this sin always require reparation? }

Mike replied:

Dear Carlos,

Sorry it took me so long to get back to you.

You quoted the Catechism of St. Pio X (also known as the Catechism of St. Pius X), but that Catechism was intended for a totally different generation and era (1903-1914).

The current universal Catechism published in the 1990s: the Catechism of the Catholic Church, states:

II. Respect for the Dignity of Persons.

Respect for the souls of others: Scandal.
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. It prompted our Lord to utter this curse: "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea." (Matthew 18:6; cf. 1 Corinthians 8:10–13) 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. (cf. Matthew 7:15)

2286 Scandal can be provoked by laws or institutions, by fashion or opinion.

Therefore, they are guilty of scandal who establish laws or social structures leading to the decline of morals and the corruption of religious practice, or to "social conditions that, intentionally or not, make Christian conduct and obedience to the Commandments difficult and practically impossible." (Pope Pius XII, Discourse, June 1, 1941) This is also true of business leaders who make rules encouraging fraud, teachers who provoke their children to anger, (cf. Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21) or manipulators of public opinion who turn it away from moral values.

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!" (Luke 17:1)

You said:

  • Does the sin of scandal always need reparation?

Yes, it should be brought to Confession, but this was probably done when you first entered the Church.

You are correct, this is best handled by your Confessor but don't sweat it, if it was not done when you first entered the Church just bring the issue up at your next Confession and:

            Welcome to the Church and our Divine Family!


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