By Kathleen Gilbert
PHOENIX, Arizona, July 5, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Those who refuse to take Catholic pro-abort politicians to task for their words and actions not only fail the standards of fraternal charity, but embolden such individuals to commit even greater acts of evil against human life and dignity, according to Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix.
The remarks appeared in a short exposition of the nature of scandal in a column for the Catholic Sun of Phoenix last month. In the article Olmsted, one of the strongest defenders of the unborn among U.S. Catholic hierarchy, explained the need to correct public figures who profess to reconcile their Catholic faith and pro-abortion agenda, as well as other individuals who give public scandal.
“A failure to call evil by its name inevitably leads to more evil acts in the future,” wrote Olmsted. “Evil acts, in themselves, are the greatest source of scandal. When the perpetrators are not called to account, then they are emboldened to do even worse deeds.”
The prelate quoted Archbishop Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, who noted that, “it is particularly insidious that our society which is so profoundly confused about the most basic goods also believes that scandal is a thing of the past.”
The bishop pointed out the greater impact of scandal from public figures, who “fulfill an office of greater authority, enjoy more popularity or prestige, or [are] in a position to exercise political, economic or spiritual power or to make decisions that impact a large number of people.” “The greater their influence the greater their ability to inspire what is right and good but also the greater their ability to give scandal,” he said.
Thus when public officials “claim to be Catholic” but fail to promote the dignity of the human person, true marriage, and religious freedom, said the bishop, they give “grave scandal” – especially when justifying their stance “by claiming they cannot 'impose their religious views on others.'”
“Their words and actions allow such fundamental evils as abortion and embryonic stem cell research to continue to kill thousands of the littlest and most innocent members of the human family,” wrote Olmsted. “Their false argumentation also gives the mistaken impression that abortion is just a matter of religious opinion,” whereas life is “a basic human right inscribed in every human heart.”
“Since some scandals are more grievous than others, remaining silent about the scandal given by those with greater influence in the Church or society has far more toxic effects than silence about other scandals.”
Olmsted emphasized that “to remain silent about scandalous activity is not an act of charity; for charity is inauthentic if it is not linked with truth.”
“Fraternal correction is not an act of presumed superiority,” he wrote. “It is an act of fraternal love that desires our brother to see and admit his mistake, to repent and find new life in the rich mercy of God. It is also an act of love for all those who might otherwise be led astray if the scandalous behavior were not publicly confronted.”
The bishop quoted the “quite emphatic” words of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke: “Scandals inevitably arise, but woe to him through whom they come. He would be better off thrown into the sea with a millstone around his neck than giving scandal to one of these little ones. Be on your guard. If your brother does wrong, correct him.'”
Olmsted also pointed out the grievous effect on the laity that arises from misconduct on the part of Catholic clergy, which he said causes “great harm within the Church and society.”
“Sadly, the sexual abuse of children and youth by a small percentage of the clergy has reminded everyone of the devastating results of such scandalous behavior, and the need to decisively address this scandal,” he wrote.
Read Bishop Olmsted's full column here.