Only very recently have I become aware that I am very guilty of committing detraction. I did not even realize what I was doing had a name. During my Lent journey I am giving up complaining & yelling but I need to learn more about detraction. Can anyone recommend a good Catholic book on the subject that is not a difficult read? Thank you.
I’m not sure of a book, but the following revelation suffices for me:
“A vicious tongue is more cruel than the lance which pierced My Heart. When it wounds another, it wounds a part of My Body – indeed, it wounds My Living Body, whereas the lance only pierced My dead Body. It causes Me more pain than the thorns caused My Head, or the nails My Feet and Hands. I love whoever it is whom that vicious tongue has attacked – I gave My own life for them.”
- Jesus to Servant of God Yvonne-Aimée de Jésus
I don’t know of a book, but I will quote some relevant bits from the Catechism. It has a lot to do with protecting the reputation of others, whether they deserve it or not. We are not supposed to say something bad about someone, even if it is true.
The Catechism allows exceptions for “objectively valid reason,” which I have tried (with little success) to explore in other threads. I think that means it may be morally acceptable to reveal someone’s fault or failing in order to prevent serious harm to another. I think this would include harm like injury, physical or sexual abuse, loss of property, and perhaps emotional abuse when the potential victim is particularly susceptible to it. I think one would be morally bound to reveal no more information than necessary to prevent that harm, and to reveal it to only those who need to know it in order to prevent that harm.
Anyway, here’s what the CCC says:
2477 Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury. He becomes guilty:
[INDENT]–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;
–of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them.
2478 To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor’s thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way:
Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another’s statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved.
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.
2480 Every word or attitude is forbidden which by flattery, adulation, or complaisance encourages and confirms another in malicious acts and perverse conduct. Adulation is a grave fault if it makes one an accomplice in another’s vices or grave sins. Neither the desire to be of service nor friendship justifies duplicitous speech. Adulation is a venial sin when it only seeks to be agreeable, to avoid evil, to meet a need, or to obtain legitimate advantages.
2481 Boasting or bragging is an offense against truth. So is irony aimed at disparaging someone by maliciously caricaturing some aspect of his behavior.[/INDENT]
(I’ve included more than the passage on detraction, because much of this relates to gossip in general.)
Thank you to both of you for your replies. I will look it up in the CCC. God bless.
Okay, but the CCC may be a difficult read. I would have recommended something else on the subject, but at the moment I can’t think of any!
My spiritual director once recommended to me “Sins of the Tongue,” by Fr. Belet I believe.