Definition: “scandal” – “is a word or action evil in itself, which occasions another’s spiritual ruin… It is not the physical cause of a neighbor’s sin, but only the moral cause, or occasion… and as such it [scandal] exercises on the will of another an influence more or less great which induces to sin.”1
We live in an era of politicians getting away with obvious untruths and expecting the absurd to be accepted with greater unquestioning “faith” than that given to Church teachings. To some, this may be “scandalous” in the modern sense, but more closely related to “shocking” than to the classical “scandal.”
The Catholic Church has guarded the faith carefully because of the earlier definition in the first paragraph. Teaching error, as is the case with most sins, affects more than the individual committing it. It is this particular concern which the Archdiocese of Cincinnati had with the issue of Mike Moroski and his personal blog. His statements afterward, and those of some of his supporters, could come under both versions. Either way the situation was unfortunate. But it was also very necessary that he be fired on February 11 from his administrative and teaching position at Purcell-Marian High School in Cincinnati.2
Moroski posted his support for “gay marriage” on his personal blog. He acknowledged “that he violated the Archdiocese’s social media policy. The contract he signs every year also requires him to ‘comply with and act consistently in accordance with the stated philosophy and teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.’” Moroski was put on administrative leave Feb. 4 and given the opportunity to recant his blog statements and thus, retain his position at the high school.3,4
Significance of Actions
These agreements are required because the Archdiocese of Cincinnati operates Purcell-Marian.2 Both have the responsibility to ensure that Church doctrines are taught and presented accurately. All Catholics, not just priests, are morally bound to defend critical Church teachings to the best of their abilities5 to avoid the earlier version of “scandal” – communicating an error which misleads others; and subsequently into wrongdoing. Those in official positions of authority are also bound contractually, as Mike Moroski was.
When he refused to remove his statement from his blog, he said, “I believe in Catholicism, but my conscience will not permit me to recant my statement. I put it up there because I really, truly, honestly believe it.” The newspaper added that he said he “‘knew the statement I was making was not in accordance with Roman Catholic beliefs,’ but he does not think he violated the contract because he was following his conscience.”2
His stated belief in Catholicism and having the courage to act on his own beliefs is certainly admirable. But how could a teacher in his 12th year at a Catholic high school (including ten years at Moeller) continue to sign a contract whose explicit expectations were so opposed to at least one of his beliefs? There is no mention of, nor would one expect there to be, a provision in the contract which allowed a school administrator to publicly contradict a Church doctrine because of conscience, well-formed or otherwise.
Letters to the Editor
The local secular newspaper published a majority of comments in Moroski’s defense. Powell Grant’s letter 3included, “There is no reason why marriage should be denied to any couple that loves each other.” (except that the author of marriage, God-and not the state, explicitly forbids same-gender sex) “No one is ever harmed by someone else’s marriage.” (just the couple who is violating the 6th Commandment… or anyone influenced by their actions to do likewise… uh, oh, “scandal” would be occurring here, too) “Recent polls indicate a majority of Americans have reached the same conclusion [that prohibiting homosexual couples from marrying is unjust].” (hm, I just happened to have posted an article on moral truths not being subject to popular opinion, 2/11/2013)
Carolyn Schultz3 brought up a good point that Obama-Biden bumper stickers have been prevalent at Purcell-Marian. Her implication was that that it’s no different from what Moroski did on his blog, expecting readers would reach the conclusion that he should be exonerated. Actually, they should go the other direction and bring those teachers to task for their open support of disordered behavior!
All of the pro-Moroski writers are probably well-intentioned, but it cannot be ignored that they are like the rest of 50% “Catholic vote” in perpetuating the moral errors promoted by the President. In their opinion, his victory last November justifies his rewriting of things spiritual as if they were things of state.
Beth Egbers was one respondent who understands the gravity of this situation regarding the sanctity of marriage. She wrote, “They can choose to offend God, but when they are leading Catholic students astray6, they are multiplying their offense exponentially. The fact that Moroski has been educated at Xavier and Notre Dame says a lot, unfortunately.”3
Yes it does, very unfortunately. Just as these universities used poor judgment7, now their former students are spreading error on critical issues. I hope this teacher and his supporters gain a valuable lesson about “scandal.”
1 – www.newadvent.org> Catholic Encyclopedia
2 – Cincinnati Enquirer, 2/10/2013
3 – Cincinnati Enquirer, 2/12/2013
4 — WLW radio reported the Moroski’s option during the week of February 4
5 – “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope,” (from 1 Peter 3:15), The New Catholic Answer Bible, Fireside Catholic Publishing, Wichita, KS, 2005
6 – and therefore, is an example of scandal in the classical sense
7 – Xavier University retracted its position on contraceptives and abortifacients and resumed coverage of these in its insurance policies last year. Notre Dame invited President Obama to give the commencement exercise in 2009, which included the usual honorary degree. Unfortunately, it was to someone who holds many of the Church’s teachings in contempt and works to stifle them.