Gossip or Just "Catching Up"?

Is there a difference between gossip and just “catching up”?

I went to have my taxes done at an office where I worked for a brief time. We talked about the people who have left since I worked there. One involved our former boss, who has been having personal problems. The person who prepared my taxes told me a lot of things that were not so good about my former bosses life. When, at the end, I said something like, “Well, it was nice to catch up with you and all the gossip,” I offended her. She’s a Christian, though not Catholic, and said something to the effect that it wasn’t Gossip, just catching up.

Is there ever a difference? Where’s the line? Does it have to do with the intentions, i.e. Gossip seeks to harm, whereas catching up merely informs? Does it have to be that the talk is negative? I mean, can we never share a problem a third person is facing?

What do you think?

As for me, the remark about us gossiping kind of slipped out, and I meant it in a more general sense, but once I said, I felt I’d done it in the theological sense…so, it’s off to confession I go…


2477 Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury.278 He becomes guilty:

  • 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;279

  • 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.280





Jimmy Akin of Catholic Answers: jimmyakin.com/2006/05/psst_did_you_he.html

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