Chris Rickert needs to educate himself on Catholic teaching before criticizing Bishop Robert Morlino and the Diocese of Madison on Catholic funerals.

For Rickert, the issue is simple: He opposes Catholic teaching that marriage can only exist between one woman and one man. He wants the church to embrace homosexual marriage. For the church, however, the issue is not homosexuality. It is the avoidance of giving scandal -- which the Catechism defines as "a grave offense if by deed or omission another is deliberately led into a grave offense."

In other words, to cause scandal is to invite others to believe it is morally acceptable to engage in sinful behavior. As vicar general Monsignor James Bartylla explained, the guidelines he issued urge that every effort be made to provide funeral rites if possible. But to grant a Catholic funeral to someone who chose to act, very publicly, in a way that the Church teaches is sinful -- and who gave no indication of repentance -- is to invite others to believe that such behavior is morally acceptable.

And that, the Catholic Church cannot do.

Rick Hinshaw, New York City, director of communications, Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights

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