Does this 'count' as gossip?


#1

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.


#2

If you have to ask, it’s not mortal sin.

Since this was news in one country (though suppressed in another) I’d say no, this is not even the “matter” of gossip.

But IANAPJAAS.

ICXC NIKA


#3

Make it easy. Your mother tells you that she heard her next door neighbor Mr. Smith is having an affair. She speculates that it is with Mrs. Jones. None of her friends in the neighborhood know for sure, but she thinks that your friend Steve who lives in another town might know.

She asks you to talk to Steve. You talk to Steve and he tells you that he heard that Mrs. Jones is very faithful, but Mr. Smith was seen in a compromising position with Miss. Clark.

Now would you consider telling this to a 3rd party to be gossiping? I don’t know about you, but I would say it is character assassination dealing with a prurient interest. It isn’t keeping your side of the street clean.

Others might disagree, but I think Mr. Smith, Mrs. Jones, and the fetching Miss Clark would prefer it you minded your own business. Even if you were 100% correct, and it was well known in the other neighborhood. (the US)


#4

It would seem that celebrities don’t like averse publicity.

But, when they complain, I can’t help but think that they are celebrities, and whether or not they like it, the public will find out all they can.

Just like some celebrities have been known to shoplift. They don’t have to shoplift, but apparently they find it to be fun…they have a kind of impulse to do what is naughty.

It doesn’t seem to ruin their life any. Some are known for their “bad boy” or “bad girl” images.


#5

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