Disclosing another’s faults and failings.

A sin we haven’t heard much about for a long time is detraction.  Maybe it’s because it is so easy to fall into and we prefer not to accuse ourselves of it.  Or maybe we believe we can justify it to ourselves because we find a person’s beliefs or attitudes so repugnant (objectively or subjectively).  If we are less “noble” maybe we just want to hurt that person — gain revenge — for a real or perceived slight or for no particularly good reason at all.  Let’s lay out this offense against truth:

 CCC 2477  Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury.  He becomes guilty:…

– of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another’s faults and failings to persons who did not know them.

CCC 2479  Detraction and calumny destroy the reputation and honor of one’s neighbor.  Honor is the social witness given to human dignity, and everyone enjoys a natural right to the honor of his name and reputation and to respect.  Thus, detraction and calumny offend against the virtues of justice and charity.

Certainly in our day it has become particularly easy to spread such gossip (for that is what it is) in the blink of an eye far and wide (and anonymously, if one so chooses) via social media.  Often the person exposing another’s faults becomes a hero for doing so, so the lure is there.

But the exposer is just lifting himself up for adulation at the expense of another.  Remember the story of the Pharisee and tax collector.  May the attitude of a Christian be that of the latter: “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.” (Luke 18:13).

And even if we eventually, even quickly, feel remorse for our actions, it is too late.  You may have heard the oft-told story, Feathers in the Wind.  Whether or not you have come across it before, check it out here.

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