Did I commit the mortal sin of detraction?


Today my brother and I went to confession. He went first and while he was confessing his sins, I think I overheard him saying something (I won’t name the issue here). I try not to listen to him but he speaks very loud and so I was able to hear something. I’m not sure if I exactly heard him but it sounds like he needed help with something. I accidentally told my mother that I heard my brother saying (put problem here) because I’m worried about him. I didn’t want to hurt him but I am really worried and so I told my mother. Did I commit a mortal sin by telling my mother about this issue?

In general if you hear another person’s confession or any part you are to keep the seal and not tell anyone. You do not mention your age or the problem (which is good) so it’s hard to determine your culpability. I would mention it in the confessional next time you go. Is it a mortal sin? I hardly think so since your intention was to help and not to reject God with what you said. Usually a person is pretty sure when they commit a mortal sin because they know that God wanted them to resist the temptation and with full consent they did it anyways. That doesn’t seem to be the case here. Best thing is to bring it up in confession but not to despair. Say a good act of contrition if you indeed feel that you sinned and enjoy the infinite love and mercy of our Lord.

I think you did. You did hear what your brother did say and then you told your mother. Yes, you did it out of love and wanted her to maybe help him but that does not diminish the fact that what you did hear was a part of a confidential matter. I don’t know what the Canon law say about a thing like this or if it is there at all but normal discretion do, IMO, is to not tell anyone, no matter how helpful it would be. I am sure that your brother at some point will talk with your mother about this, or then not. What you also did was to put your mum in a very difficult situation. How can she help your brother if she really can’t tell that she already know. In my mind I think you should tell your brother what you did. That will help your mother. Then you need to confess and then ask your brother to forgive you. God bless you.

I don’t see how one could “accidently” tell someone what they overheard in confession. :nope: You should bring this up with a priest. Next time, you go first and move as far away as you can get when it is your brother’s turn. :cool:

Well, tough question, maybe it is,maybe not, I think it depends on the situation,
If you overhear something concerning child abuse , I would be very concerned, and maybe report it, if it was your brother stealing a few dollars from your mother,
Then maybe I wouldn’t worry about it,

You should indeed discuss this with a priest; either in confession or personally. Then follow the priest’s spiritual direction. Also, next time you find yourself overhearing a confession; move further back.
Pax et Bonum

Yes. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING warrants revealing sins overheard from another person’s confession. Doing so is a very serious sin as one who overhears a confession is bound by the seal just as priests are bound by it. God’s mercy is also abundant, so please go to confession immediately. Also, tell the priest that he must tell his penitents to speak quietly. It is very unfair (a sin against charity, in fact) to impose the seal of confession on others who might not be formed well in their faith or character and easily enticed to sin by revealing sins they overhear.

Not a tough question at all. The seal of confession is binding on all confessors as well as those who overhear confessions. It is absolutely inviolable under all circumstances. Even if the person were confessing that they were about to commit the most horrible crime in the history of humanity and your telling someone would prevent that from happening, you are not able to say anything if you are a priest hearing it mentioned in confession or a bystander overhearing someone saying it in confession,

Yes,you are of course correct, but if I overheard child abuse, and I could do something to stop it, I think I would, and see what happens when judgement day came,

First you cannot “accidentally” tell your mother. That was obviously a deliberate action.
Second, you have violated the Seal of Confession which is a sin of grave matter.
You should go back to Confession.

See Canon Law below. The part I highlighted would apply to your actions.

Can. 983 §1 The sacramental seal is inviolable. Accordingly, it is absolutely wrong for a confessor in any way to betray the penitent, for any reason whatsoever, whether by word or in any other fashion.

§2 An interpreter, if there is one, is also obliged to observe this secret, as are all others who in any way whatever have come to a knowledge of sins from a confession.

While this is of serious matter NO ONE here can determine whether or not you have committed a mortal sin. The folks that do are not aware of the three conditions of a mortal sin and if they are they could not possibly know the full consent that you gave to reject God in your action. Yes, confess this but don’t ask if any sin is mortal on a forum. We cannot pretend to be God. If I were to say that you committed a mortal sin it is the same as saying if you die right now you are going to hell. What is that? It’s judgment and ONLY God can judge the human soul. So, yes, you should not divulge what you hear in anyone else’s confession to anyone. Like others say, move away next time. So, discuss this matter with a priest and receive absolution and then make sure this doesn’t happen again. God bless you…teachccd :slight_smile:

Thanks everyone. I went to Confession today and I was absolved so Deo Gratias for that.

Another question (I’m not guilty of the following, I just want to see if I understand this concept fully). Let’s say Father discusses something with me in the confessional. Can I talk about this with my family? So, let’s say Father tells me to this or that to help me stop committing a sin, can I tell a third party about that?

I’m sorry if that is worded a bit obscurely but I hope you get the gist of the question.

You can discuss the contents of your own confessions with anyone you choose. In general, I think it’s best to leave discussions of your sins to the confessional but there might be something that you would find further discussion with a family member or friend helpful.

I’ve been on these forums long enough that I was certain someone would say this, yet I carefully chose to simply say “yes, it’s a mortal sin” rather than that it’s grave matter and explain again and again how the conditions for a sin being mortal must be met in order for a sin to be mortal. Why? Because this is very serious, and God is so much more than distant and technical theological rhetoric. He’s a person (three, actually), and we KNOW when we’ve cut ourselves off from communion with Him. If I decide to go up to my best friend and punch him in the face for no reason and tell him I did it just because I felt like it, our friendship will be destroyed until I have shown true sorrow (which probably wouldn’t be enough to save a typical earthly friendship, but it’s just an example- the point is I don’t need to confuse things with technical terms when even a very basic sense of the faith is enough).

Even uncatechized Catholics know that the seal of confession is a big deal. Even, at least generally speaking, clergy and religious notorious for questionable theology and philosophy know better than to break that rule. Even secularists know that’s something Catholics hold sacred. Unless something is seriously wrong with a person, or they are too young or, due to disability, unable to understand that they must control themselves, there is culpability here. We should assume sins that are grave matter are mortal, so that we might be inclined to go to confession immediately to have our souls restored in Christ.

First of all you might notice that we signed up for this forum within a couple of weeks apart so I have been around a while myself.

I stand by what I say and I speak as the Church teaches. To say to anyone, “yes, it is a mortal sin” is judging a soul and we cannot do that. YES, it is serious and I never implied that it wasn’t. There is a difference with serious matter and a person who is in the state of mortal sin. Sins that are grave matter and are not automatically mortal as you express. That is not what the Church teaches and so that is not what I promote. Full consent must be taken into account and NO ONE here can know the consent given by anyone as being definitively “full”.

So, I stand by what I said because it is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches in the areas regarding mortal sin.

What’s the sin of detraction?

I can assure you of hell if you’re unrepentant. The seal is inviolable, and is binding on all who overhear anything in confession.

If you do this with full knowledge and consent, I can assure you that no matter your motives even to ostensibly protect children, if you die unrepentant of this, you will go to hell. Absolutely nothing, nothing justifies breaking the seal of confession, which is binding on all who hear it.

Please read Mark. 9:42 then I would be interested in your interpretation …

For it is because of this,among other reasons, I would surly do something,

Plus, not to mention that we have to know if the OP realized that this would be grave matter or not to fulfill the full knowledge aspect of a mortal sin. For all we know, he could have done the action without thinking about this being a sin, and then a few hours later, he goes “wait, was that a mortal sin?”

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