“It’s okay to ask a prostitute to sleep with you since she’s already morally compromised…”

…is not something anybody remotely familiar with Catholic moral teaching would normally say. Likewise, no Catholic would say that if your car broke down on the way to your tryst, you are guiltless of tempting her to the sin of fornication. Nor would a Catholic in his five wits claim that “Since I had no intention of doing the deed, therefore I did not tempt her to do the deed.”  The sin has already been assented to by the woman you tempted, whether or not it achieves consummation. Any Catholic who understands elementary Catholic teaching grasps this–normally.

But in the heat of combat in the defense of lying to clinic workers and tempting them to agree to murder, such common sense goes out the window. So when we move to the case of the clinic worker who has already committed the grave sin of murder, a surprisingly large percentage of Catholics say, well, pretty much what a reader said to me yesterday when I used the analogy of temptation to fornication to describe the grave evil of urging clinic workers to commit murder: “If you ask a woman to commit adultery and she’s a nun, it has a different moral gravity than if you ask a woman who is a prostitute and is standing on a street corner under a red light”.

Translation: You *can* ask a prostitute to sleep with you since she’s a worthless slut and it doesn’t matter if you tempt her to grave evil. And because of this, you *can* tempt a clinic worker to grave evil since that person too is worthless due to their long involvement with evil. And as long as you don’t go through with the abortion, it’s all golden. Your act of getting them to agree to commit yet another murder is sinless.

This is, not to put too fine a point on it, a *total* inversion of the Church’s teaching on Scandal. That teaching is as follows:

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.”86 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.87

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.”88 This is also true of business leaders who make rules encouraging fraud, teachers who provoke their children to anger,89 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!”90

The whole point of the Church’s teaching on scandal is that we bear a special responsibility not to lead into temptation those most likely to commit grave evil (i.e., the “weak”). So we have a special duty to the prostitute not to tempt her to fornicate, to the porn addict not to hand him the free cable access in our house for the weekend while we vacation, to the alcoholic not to give him a drink. Urging a clinic worker to agree to another murder for the sake of a photo op is *exactly* this kind of sin. And we assume responsibility for their agreement to commit murder when we argue that their guilt for participation in other murders gives us license to ask them to commit another one for the sake of a photo op.

The Church gives us three fundamental and non-negotiable guidelines in approaching all moral acts:

1789 Some rules apply in every case:
- One may never do evil so that good may result from it;

- the Golden Rule: “Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them.”

- charity always proceeds by way of respect for one’s neighbor and his conscience: “Thus sinning against your brethren and wounding their conscience . . . you sin against Christ.” Therefore “it is right not to . . . do anything that makes your brother stumble.”

The tactic of lying to clinic workers and asking them to help commit murder violates every single one of these. Instead of defending these evil tactics, prolife Catholics should urge they be dropped and replaced with virtuous ones. That is possible. It is also, by the way, smart since a) LA can no longer be subject to the obvious refutation “You are liars, so why trust your videos weren’t edited?” and b) if a clinic worker *pressures* a LA agent to abort, it will be readily obvious, whereas this is obscured when the LA worker is lying and pretending to want an abortion.

In addition, the sooner LA drops these tactics, the sooner Catholics will end the extremely morally corrosive project of betraying the fundamental prolife Catholic ethos which says that every human being–including a clinic worker–is sacred in the eyes of God and that nobody can be reduced to a mere means to an end or treated as though their souls are disposable and as though it doesn’t matter if they are killed–or damned. This stuff is poison. Enough.

Prayer Request
Why I Love My Country
Poor Ramesh Ponnuru
Independence Day

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