Is it a sin to lie while undercover. It’s just a question I have thought up, not that I have been or are going to be undercover. So would it be a sin or would it not since you are doing it for the greater good?
As I understand Catholic teaching it is always wrong to do an evil thing for a good end. The end does not justify the means. Therefore lying (about your name, occupation. role, intent, attitudes, beliefs etc) would not be justified by the goodness of your intended end. It would be a sin.
By this logic, wouldn’t a witness protection program also be sinful? If you lawfully assume a certain identity as part of an undercover operation, I’m not sure that would be considered the sin of lying.
When the early Christians fled the pagans they were sometimes undercover. If I remember the Bible correctly, in order to protect her after the Resurrexion, Virgin Mary also had to be undercover when she fled to the desert. I think it is in John’s or Luke’s gospel. I will look it up. I am not sure about her but other saints had to hide and run during the times of persecution.
I think that maybe just assuming another identity is not that grave. But to begin forming an elaborate lie in order to deceive someone is not hiding anymore, is tempting. So my bet is that it depends what kind of lies you say while undercover. And also what you do. If you hurt someone, it is you who is doing it not your virtual id.
Like for example if you pretend to be someone else, and instead of them you commit sins so that the worldly justice will inflict those to the person who’s identity you stole, I am sure this a very grave sin.
What has the law to do with it?
When the early Christians fled the pagans they were sometimes undercover. If I remember the Bible correctly, in order to protect her after the Resurrexion, Virgin Mary also had to be undercover when she fled to the desert. I think it is in John’s or Luke’s gospel. I will look it up.
Perhaps you mean when she and Joseph fled to Egypt after Jesus was born?
No, it was after the Crucifixion.
I am not sure that the flee in Egypt meant hiding identity. They did go to the authorities to be counted as Jews.
There is a passage in the Book of Revelation that speaks of a woman fleeing to the desert after giving birth. Could you be thinking of that? Revelation 12: 1-6.
Yes. I don’t know why my concocted this into information about Virgin Mary. When I wrote I was so sure and almost saw the page of the Bible where I read about Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene fleeing together to the desert.
You are quite welcome!
You may need to rethink that given that this is the feast of Blessed Miguel Pro who spent years as an undercover priest, lying about his identity and pretending to be a gambler, businessman, manual laborer etc so he could avoid arrest and bring the sacraments to Catholics in secret.
And he’s one step from sainthood.
In general this whole discussion goes back to all the discussions we have had on here before about “is it okay to lie in order to save a life”. Let’s assume people are going undercover to save lives by catching criminals, gathering intelligence on foreign governments, defeating evil leaders like Hitler, rescuing refugees, etc. Do you really need Catholic theology to tell you what the right thing to do in that circumstance is?
Lying to preserve life and save the innocent is not a sin.
As the above post rightly suggests.
Let’s try and make it simple.
All of creation is precious. The image of God made manifest. We should do whatever we can to preserve life. Regardless of personal cost.
That is morally right. To ‘not’ lie in this case would be the sin. To do nothing to save another, is as as good as doing the evil yourself.
How can it not be righteous to lie (in this case), if for example you know clearly that if you tell the truth - you condemn someone to death. I find it sad that people have any doubt there.
It is not morally wrong to conceal information from those who have no right to it, especially when you know they plan to use the information to do evil to others.
It’s early 1940s Germany. Your Jewish spouse is hiding in the cellar. The Nazi authorities show up at the door and say “is your Jewish wife in the house?” Being a CAFer, you know you don’t have to share information that he has no right to, but terrified of lying you remain silent. He thus shoves past you, finds your wife, and she dies a terrible death in the concentration camp. Your silence condemned her. Utterly. But you feel good about it because you didn’t lie.
…I think this is where mental reservation comes in.
The sin is bearing false witness, not lying per se. No one has a right to the absolute truth regardless of circumstances. Not even the Son is privileged to all knowledge held by the father. A criminal posing a grave threat to public safety is not entitled to the details of an operation to apprehend him. An officer of the law has no duty to be truthful about his identify while attempting to surveill or disrupt criminal activity in progress.
“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” – Mark 13:32 New International Version
Because your name is legally changed, you are given a new job and a new place to live. One can assume a new identity without lying.
I certainly hope you are not denying that Jesus Christ is fully God, because as God He is omniscient.
We absolutely are required be honest, all lies are sins.
There may be some jobs that “require immorality” and as such a Catholic cannot accept those jobs.
I am not saying christ does not have the knowledge, but that he is not privileged to share that information.
Criminal law is a difficult but absolutely essential area. Natural law simply does require slavish honesty in dangerous situations.