The Boston Globe’s Pulitzer Prize–winning coverage of clergy sexual abuse of minors in 2002 led to what few would hesitate to call the most significant scandal in the history of the Catholic Church in the United States. In contrast, Catholics themselves disagree about whether the voting records of some Catholic politicians or the particular policies and practices of Catholic institutions might be called scandalous. Such questions often both reflect and intensify divisions within the Catholic community.
Whether understood as negative public relations or as an action, attitude, law, or institution influencing another to sin, scandal affects the Catholic Church’s proclamation of the good news of God’s saving love. This makes theological reflection about scandal an essential aspect of being Catholic today. Failure to engage in this reflection risks truncating the tradition and obscuring the Good News.
This book invites this reflection in order to understand differences in perception and judgment, make appropriate courses of action more clear, and enable Catholics to participate more effectively and authentically as a faith community in public life.
Angela Senander, PhD, is associate professor of theology at Merrimack College in the Archdiocese of Boston. She has previously served as chair of the department of systematic and moral theology at Washington Theological Union, visiting fellow at Woodstock Theological Center, and research fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University. Her writings on faith, church, and public life have appeared in Prophetic Witness: Catholic Women’s Strategies for Reform, New Theology Review, and America.
"In this, Senander’s first book, the Catholic ethicist and systematic theologian intelligently and intelligibly unfolds the distinct meaning of ‘scandal’ in Catholic history and theology. . . . Senander offers a timely look behind the fault lines in the private and public life of the modern Catholic Church."
"The primary contribution of this book is a lucid and clear exposition of the many ‘stumbling blocks’ (scandals) for the Church and the individual Catholic, both in the internal life of the Church and in its mission to the world. Senander’s broad research is impressive, and she writes clearly, thus making the book accessible not only to the theological community but for all interested Catholics."
-Charles Curran, Elizabeth Scurlock University Professor of Human Values, Southern Methodist University