There’s a big news story over here in the UK right now about ‘super-injunctions’, which are when a person (often a celebrity) wins a legal case to make it illegal for the media to make a story about them public. They’re pretty controversial, and there’s a big legal row over whether or not they should even exist, but anyway…
Yesterday my mum had read in the paper that a celebrity had got an injunction to stop the media telling everyone about their infidelity. But the news had gotten out in the US (where obviously no law), so my mum came and asked me to google and find out who the celebrity was. She told me that she was convinced it was [Celebrity A, we’ll just say].
So I looked it up, and it wasn’t Celebrity A, but a completely different one. I now worried that if I told her it was [Celebrity B], then this would be the sin of gossip (I mean, it’s not really ‘news’, is it?). I realised that I probably shouldn’t even have found out who it was for her in the first place.
Anyway, I went over in my head different things I could do with the information - I knew I’d have to tell my mum “It’s not Celebrity A” and rectify her errors about him, but then I knew she’d want to know who it really was. But I didn’t want to engage in gossip. I know that you’re only supposed to talk about someone else’s faults if it’s for their own good in some way. And I also figured that if it’s your mum, it’s different from if you were telling a stranger or even a friend.
The compromise I eventually decided on that I figured would be best was to tell her it was Celebrity B, and that she had to promise not to tell anyone else and to pray for the people involved. But afterwards, I felt really bad, like even that was still gossip.
I had a similar issue earlier in the week. I was in a discussion with Catholic friends (I forget exactly what it was on) and I as an example mentioned a famous Catholic who’d left the faith. The conversation went something like this:
“…and he decided he didn’t believe [xyz] that the Church teaches, and before you know it, he’s stopped believing all of these other things. Anyway, I think that’s just such a scary example of how you can lose the faith -”
“Who was it?”
“No, I’m not going to say names -”
“Yeah, but who?”
“No, I don’t want to gossip.”
“No, no, it’s okay, just tell us.”
“Okay, it’s…[and I lowered my voice a little and said the name]”
I have no idea if any of this counts as gossip. What counts? Does it matter if the person is a celebrity? Does it make a difference if it’s, for example, a public Catholic figure who is openly rejecting the faith in some way - is it legitimate for other Catholics to discuss the matter (as part of a serious discussion, not just like, “Oh, he’s such a heretic” kind of thing)?
Anyway, I didn’t receive the Eucharist today at Mass. I’m almost sure I’m not in a state of mortal sin (since I’m even having to ask) but I didn’t feel comfortable receiving after what happened yesterday especially.