Fraternal correction confusion


Hey, This article confuses me a lot because I have friends at school who sin (sometimes in a grave matter) but they are born and raised Catholic and they really should know basic stuff (eg. skipping mass is a grave matter etc.). If they act in a way that leaves open the possibility that they could be sinning in that way does that make me morally obliged to tell them it’s wrong just in case they don’t know? This is for things that would be considered a log in my brother’s eye not just a speck.

GOD bless!


I would pick your battles and words very carefully! Although your friends could be ignorant, they could also know what they’re doing is wrong. Therefore, when “questioning” them don’t be surprised if they don’t care what you have to say. Personally, I don’t like to go around correcting people. Perhaps if they’re a close friend I’ll start a conversation about Church and gauge their reaction and opinions. I might throw in a few informational bits for them to consider; however, I never say, “You’re in sin and going to Hell” or “You’re committing sacrilege by receiving unworthily”. They’re not idiots, they know exactly what they’re doing. All my friends left the Church and knowingly engage in debaucherous lifestyles. I said my piece delicately to them and that was that.


If you really think they just might not know, why not just put it out there?

Not saying I am the best corrector of my brethren myself…


Yeah, the writing style is not easy to read

The article has a list of conditions for you to be obligated:

  • the delinquency to be corrected or prevented is a grievous one;
  • there is no good reason to believe that the sinner will adequately provide for himself;
  • there is a well-founded expectation that the admonition will be heeded;
  • there is no one else just as well fitted for this work of Christian charity and likely to undertake it;
  • there is no special trouble or disadvantage accruing to the reformer as a result of his zeal.

Go down that list and see if each item (or most of them) apply in your situation. If not, it may do more harm than good to try to fraternally correct your friends.

If they are skipping church, an alternative approach would be to invite them, for example remarking that you will be going to church and you were wondering if they want to come along too.

If it is other kinds of sin, there is always the option of quietly setting a good example, without preaching about it.

Pray for them, privately, of course.


Thanks all for the advice:)
I feel like correcting others should take on a sort of out of body thing where you just care for the persons safety and not just your own, and choosing battles wisely seems wise. I’ll try to do it with gentlest and love just in case, but I guess it’s only mortally binding (though I should just want to do what GOD wants) if all those conditions are met. Thanks. Love you all!

GOD bless!


God remains IN Charge; you are where you are because that is GOD’S plan for you at this time. So IF you are able, privately and in charity correct a KNOWN sinner; then yes, you ought to do so.

But know also God does not appoint me and you as judges; so do NOT take a I’m better than you attitude.

Mt 18: [15] “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. [16] But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. [17] If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector”

Keep in mind that only GOD can cause a conversion. So pray very much for them before to approach them.

God Bless you



That you don’t understand how this verse applies to you suggests that you aren’t ready to go around fraternally correcting anyone. You need to worry about the log in your own eye.


It can only be an assessment, never a judging unit verified. There is always the possibility that the offense heard or seen is in error. The doubt holds true to the benefit of the corrected. But I agree with others here. It takes skill to approach such things and much tact is needed by the observer, … but also a charity(non intimidation) of reception by the subject, and a quiet self mortification, and possibly examination of conscience, if true.


For starters, if you don’t know what the family dynamics are, you are wading into an area you have no business going into.

Further, a mortal sin requires knowledge; if they don’t know then they cannot be committing a serious sin.

New Advent articles are often difficult to read until you have had training in critical thinking. Given the article is from 1908, it is going to be difficult for you to parse out, as is clear from your question.

Most people do not take well to busy bodies; your correction of them most likely is not going to go over well at all, In addition to knowing precious little about their family dynamics, confrontational comments cause the vast majority of people to react as if they are under attack (they are, at that point) and the result is usually exaggerated rejection of both the content of the comment and the deliverer.

The short of it is you need to mind your own business. You are not an authority; you are a classmate. An authority, such as a priest, has just a tad bit more cache than you do - or you will, for a number of years to come.

Tend to your won spiritual well being. Keeping them in prayer is a good thing. Acting like an officious know-it-all or a holier-than-thou, which is how they will perceive you, is not a good thing.



You seem to be saying that fraternal correction would never be right because it isn’t minding your own business. Clearly we are called both biblically and by the Chatechism and for the well being of another’s soul to correct them sometimes or are you just saying this isn’t one of those times because it doesn’t concern me


Thanks for the advise!
I would love a fuller explanation if you could of what JESUS is talking about or even just a link that can explain it well. It seems to suggest it is about judging and hypocrisy and not correcting but I may br wrong.

GOD bless!


You may not appreciate my comments - and that would not surprise me. When I was your age, I did not particularly like people older than me telling me “how it is”.

You are a student. I happen to be 71. And in 71 years I have learned at least one or two things, if not more, and some of them were painful to learn.

You do not have enough life experience to be able to make the kind of judgement you want to rush into. I will repeat: you know next to nothing of your friends’ lives. You know nothing of the family dynamics, and I seriously doubt you have enough life experiences to know how to bring up subjects such as this one in a way that does not either come across as judgmental (whether you are or are not), or as sticking your nose into matters which may be different than you are assuming.

You need to keep your nose out of this. It is not your place to correct them - you are not their parent, nor their counselor, nor their confessor. And I seriously doubt you have learned enough of the approach which uses questions instead of statements to make a point.

If one of them, in a serious manner brought the matter up with you - such as a question as to why you go to Mass regularly - you could answer them, without telling them what they are doing is wrong. In other words you need to credit them with a bit more intelligence than you are doing now. and that means they need to bring the subject up - not you.

Fraternal correction is all too often someone coming across, whether they are conscious of it or not, as a self-righteous prig (and if you can’t define that word, look it up). Fraternal correction, as it is used in the New Testament, is about someone who has offended you. These kids are not offending you; they may or may not be offending God. And if you don’t understand that difference, then you most definitely have no business correcting them.

In short, much of what is passed off as “fraternal correction” is being a busy body and sticking your nose in where it does not belong. Not all fraternal correction is wrong, but a highly significant amount of it either should not be done, or definitely not done the way too many people do it.

To answer your last question: it does not concern you; it is between them and their parents and God and their confessor. And yes, it is in the Catechism, but the Catechism doesn’t teach one how to do this. You need to focus on how you need to live according to Christ and the Church, and spend a whole lot more time on that and a whole lot less in looking at what others may be doing or not doing.

And one more clue: I suspect your friends are intelligent enough that they may know what the rules are. Perhaps they may not know, but you are not their teacher: that belongs to their parents, and to catechists. You should keep them in your prayers, and then attend to yourself. Insinuating that they are committing a mortal sin (which they may not be doing) or saying that outright is far more likely to make them mad at you than it is to get them to attend Mass. Believe me, in 71 years I have observed that reaction far too many times. And people just move that much farther away from the Church.


Thank you for your advice. As i began reading I wondered if you were implying i plainly shouldn’t correct anything my brother does because it is by my business but you answered my question before it was asked by saying that I should when they ask or it is against me and this seems much more in alignment with JESUS’ teaching. I will take this heavily into account GODwilling. Thank you very much. GOD bless you.


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