Is it sinful to discuss/repost leaked documents?


This is regarding the Pope’s encyclical which has been leaked but it is also a broader question about discussing and reposting leaked documents. Is it sinful to repost or even discuss the contents of documents if they have been put out without permission? Is it sinful to discuss the leaked draft contents of the encyclical before official release on Thursday?


In my opinion, no. Not a sin to discuss. The sin would be on the leaker.

But I’d be reluctant to repost them. If it’s a document that uncovers a criminal cover-up, that’s one thing. If it’s a policy document that is in a draft stage, and people “on the inside” are still working on it, it might hurt their process and betray their trust to release it before it is finalized.

And sometimes people leak their own documents on purpose as a way of testing the waters.


I personally would view this in terms of gossip and detraction. If the information is not correct or incomplete, its common variety gossip. If the information was 100% true and complete, it was still not yours to release to the press. The person who obtains it illegally and disseminates it has already breached the trust and the privacy of the rightful owner of that information.

Reporting and speculating on important documents from Popes and world leaders out of turn can result in the type of misinformation that can lead to errors in or questioning faith and loss of support and civil unrest for many the world over depending on what kind of reach you have. It could be scandal.

I recommend not getting involved until the rightful owner of that information shares it.


I’d tend to agree with this. There are lots of different types of documents that can be leaked and the leak can happen for lots of different reasons.

With this papal document in particular, I think it’s best to refrain. It is being officially released in two days in English. Right now, I’d have to rely on Google translate to accurately translate the document that may or may not even be the final product. The waiting time is so small and the variables so many that it just isn’t worth it to me.

Now, if every major news outlet started prematurely publishing all these wild statements based on the leak, then that might be reason enough to take a look in order to help stem the tide and provide clarifications as best I could. But I don’t think that’s the case at this point in time.


My opinion is that it depends on the nature and reliability of the document. If the discussion results in rash judgment, calumny or gossip, then yes, it is a sin.


I would say so. This goes to the heart of charity. One should always get permission about such things. Regarding “leaked” documents, one should consider the possible problems that may occur. Information is released, or not, at the sole discretion of whoever owns that information or document. I mean, why not wait until the day the owner/official person decides they should be released?



I think Jimmy Akin provides a pretty good model of how to handle it:

He talks about the story because people are talking about it and have questions. He seems to only reluctantly post a link to the original story simply because it is so prevalent already. It seems he looked at it at least in part as he refers to word counts and a paragraph number in one case.

Now, with him being a popular Catholic writer/blogger, it makes sense for him to look into it and comment on it. For others like me, there’s not so much the need. I can just point people to his article until Thursday, after which time I can point people to the Vatican website. :slight_smile:


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