Calling Out A Person's Sin Publicly


Salvete, omnes!

Is it sinful publicly to call out the sin of another publicly?

After all, Christ told us to confront our brother who sins against us privately and then only to go to witneses and finally to go to the whole Church.

However, I’ve always thought that sometimes it is proper to call out sin publicly especially if to cause a little bit of (good) shame to the person who has sinned and also even to make a negative example of him. Of course, one should not do so simply out of hatred for him as a person with the sole intention to embarrass him so as to cause him personal pain just because you, as it were, hate his guts. Of course, this latter situation would always be wrong.

Arre there indeed any examples in either Sacred Scripture or T/tradition where calling out an individual’s sin publicly was done for these or other reasons?

There wee indeed many examples of Christ Himself calling out collective groups such as the Pharisees for their sin, though I cannot recall off-hand any instance where He called out an individual’s sin publicly either against Him or anyone else (though that does not mean there is no instance; perhaps I just don’t recall it).

I might bring up Paul’s calling out the Chief Priest before a crowd, though he even seems to chastise himself later because he was apparently not to speak ill of a leader of his people (though still others could take that as a kind of sarcastic “apology”, pointing out that he is no leader at all or, at least, an illegitimate one).

Still, if calling out a person’s sin publicly is ever justifiable for the reasons I stated above or for others, why, then, does Christ tell us, when someone sins against us, first to confront him privately? What other reason for this could there be? If Christ advised us toward initial public rebuke in the Church so as to prevent hateful action against a brother like I mentioned earlier, should this not apply in all situations both within and outside of the Church?

Also, if this is a matter of collective vs. individual sin being called out, what, exactly, is the difference? Why can one be done and not the other? Or, again, are both permissible under certain circumstances/conditions?

If it is permissible publicly to honor a person, then, why would it not be permissible publicly to dishonor a person, again, for the purpose of turning him around and also to make an example for others as to what not to do?



Why not try it and find out? :shrug:

Really, would you want someone to do this to you?

We are called to offer fraternal correction, if and only if we think it might do some good, and if we have some type of “authority” over that person. (i.e parent over child, Religious Superior over a novice, a person’s confessor, etc)

I have no authority of you, you have no authority over me. If you called out what you thought was one of my “sins”, publicly, TRUST ME, we would have a problem.:tsktsk::mad:


What protestant church have you been affiliated with?

This is the teaching of the Catholic Church.
Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 2477

*2477 Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury.278 He becomes guilty:

–of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor;

of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another’s faults and failings to persons who did not know them;279

–of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them.*

I suppose if a sinner’s behavior is causing grave harm to a community – for instance: selling drugs to children – it would be permissible to bring this to the attention of the community. But, only if the accusation is true and can be proven.

As for Christ calling out the behavior of the Scribes, Pharisees and other sinners: He knows the hearts and souls of others. We don’t. We are not equal to Christ. We have no business assuming His authority in this regard.


No, if the sin is private, then correction should be private. No one should publicize one’s sin or call him out in public unless the sin is also of a public nature (such as politicians openly supporting abortion).

To violate this principle without good reason is itself sinful, specifically, of detraction, because every person is entitled to his good name and reputation.


In every one of the cases from the Catechism you cite, if you read them closely, there are exceptions, arguably, very similar to the ones I cite in my OP. The point in these is, I think, not to call out someone’s sin simply to bring suffering on the person for the sake of unrighteous vengeance, as I stated above. Also note the phrase “unjust injury”; I would argue that, sometimes, calling someone’s injustice out publicly, yes, shames them, but shames them in a good way, so that they might change because they adn now others know what they have done is dishonorable.

Also, consider the example of someone writing about a famous figure and wanting to show that he/she was not perfect, so he writes about both the good and the bad that he did. He may also be writing this as an example for others of what NOT to do. Would, this, too, be prohibited by those who wold object to publicly calling out sin?


Again, here, I would argue that the key here is “without good reason”.

OK, here’s a scenario by way of example with a very modern twist:

A person is quite sick of the negativity on Twitter directed at him and other people, not because his personal pride is offended but because he hates the sin of rashness he so often sees. So, when someone comes at him, he retweets their retweet and corrects them for their negativity. Would this be sinful to do? After all, in his doing this, he is trying to help bring attention to and correct a problem that he sees. He is also, arguably, trying to correct the individuals doing it and possibly to shame them (in a good way) so that they come to their senses and realize how both sinful and dishonorable their behavior is. He is also doing this because he feels righteous anger/indignation at the negativity. When he corrects, he does so firmly but not rashly and not by returning the personal attack. So, again, is the person doing this sinning?


Do you have any authority of said person? If not, then NO, the ends never justifies the means. Again, would you want this done to you?

Also, consider the example of someone writing about a famous figure and wanting to show that he/she was not perfect, so he writes about both the good and the bad that he did. He may also be writing this as an example for others of what NOT to do. Would, this, too, be prohibited by those who wold object to publicly calling out sin?

You are comparing apples to oranges here. If writing a book, especially about a historical figure, it would be prudent to list both the “good” and the “bad”. But again, judgement is not mine to make. You can give the information, but everything needs to be taken in context of when/how/who, etc.


I think you are being way too cautious here and even perhaps a bit unreasonable.

You will know the tree by its fruits. I think that God expects us to know, or at least have a pretty good idea, when someone is doing wrong and indeed doing it intentionally. We should judge, when that judgement is reasonable and, if we are wrong but reasonable in our judgment, I think God won’t hold it against us.

Also, as far as writing the book, I would argue that some of the same reasoning applies when you are writing a book as when you might call someone out in another way for his sin in that you are in some way making an example of him in both cases and, in both cases, what could come of it could benefit the rest of us.

Also, I have heard the argument that only people in authority are permitted to call out/firmly reprimand a person for thei sin and, frankly, I don’t know whether I buy it. Why, exactly, does the authority make the difference here? I just don’t get that, just because a person is in a higher position, he has the sole prerogative to call sin out for what it is, especially if calling that sin out could have benefits for both the person called out and for others who hear it, as long as that calling out is not done for malicious personal reasons.

And, yes, I can see some instances wherein privately calling someone out is the better option, but these are very case-dependent. For instance, if that alone you see as very likely to change their behavior. However, if that doesn’t sound likely to happen, than I see no reason why we should be prohibited from calling it out publicly.


I will say it one more time-

Would you want your sins publicly called out, by someone who has absolutely no authority over you what-so-ever?

The acceptable answers are YES or NO.

If you think you would, then go ahead and try it with someone else. Just be prepared to deal with the backlash.

If the answer is NO, then why on earth would you think you can/should do it to another person?


Who, in your opinion, has the authority to make the decision to call someone out? How much authority would you take on yourself to stand in judgement of another’s behavior?

If you are considering on becoming a Catholic, you will need to think seriously about how much you are willing to accept the authority of the Church’s teachings. In accepting the authority of the Catechism does not mean - “how far can I push the rules to suit myself.”

The Catechism is very clear in its warning about calling out to the community the sins of another person. The Church does not use public shame in leading people away from their sins. The Church has the gentle persuasion of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta witnessed sin in every person she loved. Could you imagine her publically shaming those she cared for and exposing this sins of those she worked with? Do you think that you or any one of us on this forum has a greater authority than her to publically expose the sins of others?


“Tweeting” is a public act. There’s nothing private about it, is there?


If one is sick of negativity why engage in it? Complaining about negativity is negative behavior.


Following Christ is a matter of how one loves his or her fellow human beings. If someone has no problem in exposing themselves in public, that his or her choice. The choice of those who love Christ, is not a choice to engage is bad behavior just because other people do.

Trying to justify one’s bad behavior because other people misbehave is the tactic of a two year old.

Christ calls all of us to behave as adults in His love.

Calling people out in the their sins just because one feels they have the authority to do so is misbehavior.


I am going to back up a bit.
It would be a sin for me to call out another person’s sin publically because I know darn well that it is wrong.

Something may be objectively wrong but we can not judge that another person is sinning unless that person is aware of what he or she is doing is causing sin within him or her.

To sin, one must be aware that a certain behavior is wrong. If one is truly innocent of this fact, that wrong done is somewhat mitigated and the person may not be completely held responsible for his or her actions.


Yes, though maybe not initially. Eventually, if I were to come to my senses, I would realize that it may have done me good to realize how shameful my actions were by being called out.



You say that the Church does not use public shaming to lead people away from their sins and I answer, what of Paul? He often makes the statement, when calling out his churches for their sin, “I say this to your shame.” This very much seems to be a public shaming for good effect. Shame, and, indeed, public shame, I would argue, is not always bad.


Well, there are times when someone replies to someone else that their initial expectation is that it will at least be somewhat private, so, there is, I think, where thie issue could get a bit debatable.


But calling it out for what it is and correcting it is not, I would argue.


You may also be crushed to the point of no return unnecessarily, when the correction could have been done privately and discreetly. Why would you want to dwell in shame?

Why would we do something that might destroy a person’s reputation, and might forever turn them away from Christ?


But, see, you’re prematurely judging this as “bad behavior” when I am arguing that it may not be when doen with proper/reasonable motives, many of which I have argued for here.

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