Did I commit the grave sin of detraction?

Hey everyone. Earlier I was at a friend’s house. In the past someone stole something from me and I had already told this friend about in the past. Well, he asked me about it again and I ended up telling him. I was telling the complete truth but now I realize that I may have committed the sin of detraction and I am afraid that I am in a state of mortal sin.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

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.

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.

I also think this part of the Catechism is relevant:

2488 The right to the communication of the truth is not unconditional. Everyone must conform his life to the Gospel precept of fraternal love. This requires us in concrete situations to judge whether or not it is appropriate to reveal the truth to someone who asks for it.

2489 Charity and respect for the truth should dictate the response to every request for information or communication. The good and safety of others, respect for privacy, and the common good are sufficient reasons for being silent about what ought not be known or for making use of a discreet language. The duty to avoid scandal often commands strict discretion. No one is bound to reveal the truth to someone who does not have the right to know it.283

I avoided telling my friend whom the person was at first because I did not want to gossip but then I gave in and told him. Now I am afraid that I am in a state of mortal sin and that I won’t be able to receive the Eucharist tomorrow.

The only thing that is of any consolation whatsoever is that the Catechism doesn’t state whether or not detraction is grave matter. Also, my mental illness may have reduced my culpability to the point where what I did was venially sinful. I am not sure. I would really appreciate advice though.

I don’t know about its sinfulness, but you ought to confess this and ask the priest about it too. If I was troubled about a possible mortal sin, I would confess it within the next few days and clear my soul over trouble about it, whether or not it actually was a moral sin. Then you could have the priest teach you about whether it was serious or not too.
If you wanted your friend’s advice, for one thing, it may have been no sin. But I don’t know whatever circumstances there may have been.

Well, this is really depressing. I had no intention of sinning. Now I’m afraid I won’t be able to receive the Eucharist in the morning.

Okay, first of all, IIRC, in order for a sin to be a mortal sin, you have to actually know that it is a mortal sin before you commit it. And, in addition, it has to be done completely willfully. By looking at what you said before, it looks like it was the venial sin of unintentional carelessness. Did you intend to smear a person? Or did his name just slip out while you were asking for advice or mentioning something that happened in the past, while trying to keep him anonymous? Yes, go to a priest and confess - but I doubt that you committed a mortal sin in this case (though, he may say, that it WOULD be a mortal sin if you do the same thing again).

Detraction is not necessarily grave matter, unless done with malice. Under the circumstances you described, since you were asked about the event, definitely not grave matter. Also, it sounds like you were not aware of anything sinful about your statement, until later on. So that means you didn’t have full knowledge. This is only a venial sin: go ahead and receive the eucharist!

  • Fr Jones

I once read that there is something effective on the soul to refrain from receiving the Eucharist…even if not in a state of Mortal Sin…so, don’t take it as depressing…embrace it as a necessary self denial…bind it to Christ’s suffering on the Cross. Marry your self denial with His. Confess when you can and attend a daily Mass on that day ( or the next)

Sometimes I think that once in a while we should remain in the pew and NOT Receive…as an act of penance or even just selflessness. We ‘NEED’ to receive Christ…but we should even deny ourselves then…I haven’t DONE it myself…maybe I’m too self conscious… but I should!:wink:

Father Jones, thank you for giving Holly a response she can trust.
It is most reassuring when a Priest responds to these questions of conscience.

Thanks. I think that it probably was a venial sin now.

Thanks Fr. Jones! I am really glad that you, a priest, came in here and commented on my thread! This provides me with the assurance I need that I can receive the Eucharist now. :slight_smile:

Well, Fr. Jones and another person are both saying it was only venial and I trust what they are saying on this so I will go ahead and receive the Eucharist in the morning. :):smiley:

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