Scandal1. The Gospel contains a frightening condemnation of those who give scandal. “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it were better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of scandal!... If thy hand or thy foot is an occasion of sin to thee, cut it off and cast it from thee! It is better for thee to enter life maimed or lame than, having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire...” (Cf. Mt. 18:6-9) Why was Christ so strict on scandal-givers? He condemned them because they are the accomplices of the devil. Not satisfied with doing evil themselves, they seek by means of bad example to draw others towards ruin as well. They try to destroy Christ's work of Redemption and the fruits of the shedding of His Precious Blood. Let us examine our own conduct. If we discover anything which could provide an occasion of sin for others, let us remedy it immediately. Thoughtlessness in such matters can be very dangerous. Something which seems perfectly innocent to us could be a source of scandal to others. Prudence and delicacy are necessary in our relations with our fellow-men.
2. There are men today who draw large profits from what Pope Pius XII called the industrialisation of evil. Scandal is not only widespread, but it has actually become an industry. It has been found that it pays to arouse the passions of the young by means of the cinema, television, books, newspapers, and other media of entertainment. This vast industry of evil destroys the purity of young souls, poisons innocent hearts, overthrows the moral foundations of Christian families, and subverts the entire structure of civil society. Can you who are reading this disclaim all responsibility for such a state of affairs? Examine your conscience. Perhaps you do not write or publish scandalous magazines, but it is you who buy them and leave them around to be read by others. In this way you contribute to the spread of evil. You should be stricter with yourself and with others where there is a question of scandal. Do not plead that this doubtful periodical or newspaper or film makes no impression on your own mind. This is false in the first place, because evil can harm everybody sooner or later. Drops of water can wear out a stone. Moreover, even if it were true, you have no right to endanger others by your encouragement of evil.
3. Some people are careful to avoid giving grave scandal, but do not give it a thought in matters which they regard as trivial. They have no scruples about imprudent gestures, malicious innuendoes, double-meaning conversations, acts of impatience, lack of understanding, or constant grumbling. Such things may seem trivial in themselves, but can cause a great deal of harm in certain circumstances and in certain types of company. We should keep control over ourselves and examine our behaviour in these matters every evening. If we examine ourselves properly, we shall realise that we have failed to a greater or less degree. Consequently, we shall recognize our obligation to make reparation as far as possible for any scandal which we have given. This can be done especially by giving good example. We have a strict obligation in conscience to make reparation for scandal.