Scandal is a socio-moral curse. It infallibly means a grave and shameful offense committed. This serious misdeed ultimately becomes publicly known. And those who come to be aware of the gross misconduct are greatly disedified by it. Scandal is thus a gross violation of standard moral conduct. As such, it not only demeans its agent but also offends the sensitivity of those made aware of it. It is bad enough for someone to engage in any markedly inappropriate conduct. But it becomes even worst when this misbehavior has its deleterious effects on other people made cognizant thereof.
Scandal is such a distinctly vicious reality that no less than Christ Himself said that it would be better for anyone guilty thereof to have a big stone tied upon his neck and thrown out into the sea. Scandal is certainly not a small matter, much less something to consider with indifference or nonchalance. It is a veritable socio-spiritual cancer.
Scandal in fact becomes even much worse when caused by persons supposed to live in virtue and to act with righteousness, to teach the truth and to lead people to goodness: Priests!
To whom much is given, much is demanded. Priests have undergone a long Seminary Formation Program. They know the fundamentals of faith. They learned the principles of morals. They teach the sacred truths and handle sacred mysteries. For anyone of them to act or live exactly opposite to the life they are committed to, to act precisely contrary to what they stand for and what they teach others—this is scandal of the maximum degree. No excuses, no rationalizations, no justifications can free any priest from accountability upon commission of any scandal. Even priests are not exempted from the Ten Commandments. The demands of justice also apply to errant priests. And the more so because they are supposed to know more, to behave better.
It is good to know that the Church has her own definite and defined Penal Law squarely applicable to erring priests, specially the scandalous ones.
13 October 2003