Is this detraction?

I’ve been thinking a bit about detraction lately. From the CCC;
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.

I am not sure exactly how to determine the “objectively valid reason” for disclosing such faults. Examples:

  1. I used to have a co-worker who was simply dreadful. She was rude, difficult, argumentative, and a liar. She made life miserable for everyone. She also made a lot of mistakes that had the potential to be damaging to the firm. My boss has always said to come to him with any serious problems we have in the office, as he says it is his job to handle them, and he can’t handle or solve them if he doesn’t know what they are. So, I told him about what was going on with her. Is this detraction? Or did our boss have an objectively valid reason to know these things?

  2. We had a new pastor at our parish who did a number of things that really upset parishioners. He fired several longtime, popular church employees, he had a rude demeanor, he brushed people off, he refused to return phone calls from parishioners who needed him, etc. The church was in an upheaval, people were leaving the parish, and everyone was very concerned for the parish’s well being. A huge group of parishioners, including myself, were so concerned we decided to write letters to the bishop, describing the problems and asking for assistance. To illustrate the severity of the issues–the bishop responded by calling a parish meeting and hundreds of people came. Ultimately the priest was reassigned, though it took awhile. Were the people who spoke out guilty of detraction? Or were problems of this nature an “objectively valid reason” to discuss them with the bishop?




Of course. The bishop is the pastor and shepherd in his diocese and the faithful have a right to make their spiritual needs known to him.

Do you tend to be scrupulous? Because I see nothing here that is problematic.

Thank you.
I have not been officially “diagnosed” as a priest as being scrupulous, but I think I may be tending in that direction, especially recently. I am sometimes a bit literal in reading the CCC as well, which can be problematic for me as it is sometimes vague (as it needs to be, i realize–it cannot possibly address each and every circumstance we find ourselves in).

Make an appointment with your pastor to talk about these tendencies and strategies for dealing with them.


I think you handled these two situations excellently.

I think “objectively valid reason” applied in each of these two cases because there was a serious problem and you went to the right person to try to solve the problem. You were not trying to detract from the person’s reputation or status, or enhance your own status. You were not gossiping. Well done!

God bless you. Be at peace.

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