The CCC says a person is guilty “of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another’s faults and failings to persons who did not know them.”

What would an “objectively valid reason” be? Examples?

The problem my husband and I are trying to figure out:

Person A in the family has some issues going on in their life. Person A comes to myself or my husband. We talk to them and try to help. But sometimes we don’t know if we’ve said the most effective/helpful thing to Person A. So, we contact Person B in the family to get their opinion on if what we said about the situation made sense, in the process telling Person B what Person A has said. Never with intent to harm anyone but only to help Person A more effectively the next time we talk to them. Person B tells us they won’t give us a critique of our advice or listen to anything about Person A because this is gossiping.


I agree with person B unless person A has given you permission.



Person B is right. If someone come to you for help that conversation is expected to be confidential. If you are that unsure of your advise then stop giving it. The only time you would need to discuss what you have heard is if the person is threatening harm to others or themselves. Then you contact the authorities for help. Otherwise: hush!


I have been in a similar situation and in my case, it is that something I may have said purely in jest was repeated as if I had said it seriously. It’s interesting how fast gossip travels.

my advice: don’t gossip, period. Let it go. Even if somebody comes TO YOU with the same information, don’t gossip. Section Four of the Catechism, on prayer, says that prayer is the means for us to oppose temptation and to become more God-like and to live up to our calling as adopted children of God. LIVE that way and be happy with it.


I would say the situation you described is gossiping. If the person wanted the other party’s advice, they would have gone to them instead of you.
As far as an example of what is an objectively valid reason for disclosing information, let’s say there is someone at work who is sexually harrassing women and tries to corner them or worse and the company isn’t doing anything about it. It would not be wrong to tell a new employee to be careful and watch out for the person and that kind of situation.


I’m struggling to understand this. I ask this sincerely to properly form my conscience.
First, I agree that if a conversation is expected to remain confidential you shouldn’t go to others about that conversation. I relayed this already to my husband.

I also maybe didn’t describe it the best way. When my husband went to Person B for advice, my husband was asking about advice for himself. NOT what Person B’s advice would have been to Person A if that makes sense. Sort of like if you are in a high school English class and you’re told to write an English paper. You submit your rough draft to the teacher and the teacher corrects you and teaches you how to be more persuasive/effective in your writing, and you make the changes for your final draft. In this situation, my husband would be the writer and Person B would be the teacher. Like training in apologetics for the Faith. Maybe that was made clear and the answer is the same. He was more asking advice versus just talking to Person B about the situation JUST to be talking about the situation. But that’s why I was wondering if this was an “objectively valid reason” or not.

Anyway, if this is true….

Wouldn’t this mean I can never say anything about anyone? I couldn’t talk to my husband about a problem I’m having with a friend or coworker because that would be gossip. I couldn’t ask for detailed prayer requests for others—for example I couldn’t say to my sister “Please pray for my neighbor who is having marital problems”, I could only say “Pray for my neighbor” or nothing at all. If my son gets into an argument or fight with a kid at school I could not tell my husband or my sister or anyone because I would be gossiping about the other kid. If my son is having behavior problems and disobeys me I couldn’t call my mother and ask for advice about what to do, because that would be gossip. I agree prayer is important, but I kind of feel God also uses other people on Earth to direct and help us. Most of the time someone is going through a rough time, it’s because of some strained relationship with another person. If all of this is gossip, then we could never discuss any of our problems with any other human but only God and perhaps a Priest?
I can’t imagine living my life this way. I depend on my husband, especially, to help me with issues that arise in my life (that almost always deal with other people I’m dealing with). I also look to my in laws for a lot of wisdom and advice. If I could never talk about any of these things I would feel very alone and I can’t imagine having a strong marriage or relationships when there were so many secrets and I couldn’t open up to anyone other than God. Doesn’t God make us One Body for a reason to help each other?

And, by just asking this question and discussing what my husband and I have done, am I now guilty of gossiping about my husband?



Also, this often is dealing with family, where everyone already knows the faults of each other and it’s not revealing information thats not already known. If that makes a difference.


Once the issue leaves your home, then it is considered gossip. You can discuss things within your home with your husband, for clarity, direction, emotional support and help.

As for prayer, you want to keep reputations intact. No need for a lot of details in real life if asking for prayers for others.

What you have to weigh is the seriousness of the issue and the pureness of intent. When we disclose things about others we need to pray -, is it helping the person or the people they come in contact with, or will the damage of this disclosure become more serious then the original issue.

Whenever in doubt, pray and bring it to Jesus first.


Just after reading this I feel I need some forming of conscience in this area too…:o

I probably told too many people that a family member of mine is in the hospital… but since that person is in another country and nobody here knows him personally, would that still be ocnsidered gossping, when it comes up in conversation (for example when my travel plans come up in conversation, and I mention that they MAY be affected by the fact that now XY is ill… ??

Sometimes I am really not sure what I am “allowed” to say and what not.

Certainly we must not say anything that might harm somebody, put somebody down… like talking “bad” about other people, I hate that anyway, also when other people do it, it makes me feel sad somehow why somebody would want to do that.

But mentioning facts that happen… where is the borderline?

If somebody asks me what do my parents do, what does my brother do… people who don’t knwo them, who just make conversation, or mabye want to get to know mE and where I came from better… I don’t think it is gossip to answer those questions, or is it anyway? (of somebody asks, how much money does your mother/fater make, well THERE I would tell them that I would not feel comfortable sharing such info even if I knew exactly… :wink: )

Could it even be wrong to e-mail with a trusted friend about things like that - a family member being sick for example? It would somehow even feel wrong to not mention something that affects me a lot in a trusted friendship? But I really don’t know, i get really confused in this area.

 It's gossip when one is disclosing information because one wants to disparage the person disclosing it or diminish their character in some way; but if there's any doubt whether the person would conceal it from other people, the information shouldn't be shared, even if you're seeking someone else's help or advice. Once you disclose the confidential, or possibly confidential information, you have no ability to stop the next person from turning it into gossip. You can always ask Person B not to pass Person A's information on in any way -- make it clear that you're at a loss in Person A's situation, and value Person B's advice.


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