May you please answer a few questions regarding "Fraternal Correction?"


*Please report this thread if it is in the wrong forum. I was unsure of which forum to go to.

Hello all. I was reading the article “Pope Francis: correction without charity is ‘a slap in the face’” on EWTN’s website, and our dear Pope Francis has said some things that I would like to better understand. The link to the article is below:

First of all, does one have to be absolutely perfect in order to admonish or correct another? Even before reading this article, I had this question in mind ever since I learned of the bible regarding “Jesus’ instruction to take the wooden beam from our own eyes before trying to take the splinter from our brother’s eye.” I am pretty sure that no human being on earth is perfect or will ever be. Does this mean that no one should ever correct anyone else? Is it hypocritical for one to preach or share the faith even though one is not perfect?

Secondly, is it not one’s duty to admonish another? In the aforementioned article, Pope Francis says that:

“…when we feel ‘a certain delight’ when we see a fault, and we see it as our duty to make the correction. We must be careful, he said, “because that is not coming from the Lord.’”

I thought admonishing the sinner was a spiritual work of mercy. Is not such an activity a Catholic Christian duty?

Please help me to understand. And pardon me for my ignorance. I thank you all in advance.


Admonishing the sinner is a spiritual work of mercy. One does not need to be perfect in order to admonish somebody; one just needs to be sincere and charitable. Seeing we are our brother’s keeper, I believe it is our duty to fraternally correct him when he is in some spiritual danger and appears open to correction. God bless you.


You’ll notice in the quote you provided that it is the ‘certain delight’ that is being spoken against, not the correction. If we take pleasure in pointing out the faults in others, we are warned that we are not correcting in G-d’s way…fraternal correction is not to be done so that we can a) elevate ourselves, or b) put others beneath us. It is to be done with charity and love, not with envy, spite or condemnation.

Hope that helps

Peace in Christ


I couldn’t have said it better myself. :thumbsup:


Exactly. If you are happy that someone else has sinned, of course that cannot come from God. Whether that happiness is because you think the person “needs to be taken down a peg,” or because they have rebuked you in the past and you would like to have some kind of revenge, or you enjoy rebuking people, or you think that being able to rebuke the person will help to make your point in an argument, or for whatever reason, it is not from God.

I think a good rule of thumb is if you aren’t saddened by the sin, you aren’t ready to rebuke the sinner. (I’m not suggesting that I myself always follow that by any means, but I wish I did. :slight_smile: )

I’m also not saying that being saddened is enough, either. There can be other requirements based on the situation. But the OP is correct in thinking that it is sometimes our duty to provide fraternal correction. Just not always. :slight_smile:

Praying before correcting is always a start when trying to see if it is your duty to provide correction in a particular situation.



We can’t judge according to truth by being mesmerized by others and giving them adulation, but according to the teaching of Christ’s Church, Her Tradition and Her Scriptures. It is very important not to judge a person’s guilt before God as commanded (Mt 7:1-5). We are commanded not to judge others regarding their motives, intentions, and guilt before God (a judgment reserved to God).

But it is vital to follow the command to judge all actions, speech, writing against truth and in this way we can help others by offering truth. Christ and His Church’s Scriptures tell us:
“Stop judging by appearances, but judge justly.” (Jn 7:24).

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them” (Mt 7:15, 16).

“Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So by their fruits you will know them.” (Mt 7:19-20).

“Test everything: retain what is good.” (1Thess 5:21).

“The spiritual person, however, can judge everything but is not subject to judgement by anyone.” (1 Cor 2:15).

“I, for my part, although absent in body but present in spirit, have already, as if present, pronounced judgement on the one who has committed this deed…” (1 Cor 5:3; read 1-13).

“I am speaking as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I am saying.” (1 Cor 10:15).

“Beloved, do not trust every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 Jn 4:1).

“I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth.” (Rev 3:16).

The correction should be with the intention of helping others to see right from wrong and truth from falsehood and so assisting in the path to virtue.


Correcting others is a gigantic minefield of vanity, pride and judgementalism. It’s not for everyone to do.


“It is better to pray devoutly for your neighbour than to rebuke him every time he sins.” - St. Mark the Ascetic

“He who busies himself with the sins of others, or judges his brother on suspicion, has not yet event begun to repent or to examine himself so as to discover his own sins” - St. Maximos the Confessor

“Do not trust a thought that would judge your neighbour” - St. Thalassios

“he who knows his own weakness …] does not dare to judge anyone, knowing that, as God has helped him, so He can help all men” - St. Peter of Damaskos

“we should look on everyone as good” - St. Symeon the New Theologian

And, of course, the Sayings of the Desert Fathers:
A brother questioned Abba Poemen in this way, ‘My thoughts trouble me, making
me put my sins aside, and concern myself with my brother’s faults’. The old
man told him the following story about Abba Dioscorus (the monk), 'In his cell
he wept over himself, while his disciple was sitting in another cell. When the
latter came to see the old man he asked him, “Father, why are you weeping?” “I
am weeping over my sins,” the old man answered him. Then his disciple said,
“You do not have any sins, Father.” The old man replied, "Truly, my child, if
I were allowed to see my sins, three or four men would not be enough to weep
for them. "

A brother in Scetis committed a fault. A council was called to which abba
Moses was invited, but he refused to go to it. Then the priest sent someone to
him, saying, “Come, for everyone is waiting for you”. So he got up and went.
He took a leaking jug and filled it with water and carried it with him. The
others came out to meet him and said, “What is this, father?” The old man
said to them, “My sins run out behind me, and I do not see them, and today I
am coming to judge the errors of another.” When they heard that, they said no
more to the brother but forgave him.

A brother sinned and the priest ordered him to go out of the church; abba
Bessarion got up and went out with him, saying, “I, too, am a sinner.”


In seeing the faults of others we can easily become judgemental or even rash judge others. Many times we are blind spiritually and not see our own faults, we can become self-righteous, the cause is a hidden pride in our souls. This is a fault, especially of good people, who take for granted their own righteous position, and expect others to be as they are. We lack charity and understanding, and even compassion for others whose faults we see. Jesus does say “First remove the beam from our eyes in order to see better the splinter in our brother’s eye” It is said “When we point our finger at the fault of others, there are three fingers of the hand that point back.” It takes the grace of God to remove our own blindness. Personally I find it hard to correct others, and when I do, I look into myself to see if I am guilty of the same fault. I try to let them down gently, although I have been harsh at times, even angry. I found out anger accomplishes nothing but personal pains. I learned that people can’t give what they don’t have, and if we expect them to give, then we frustrate them and ourselves. Charity is the safest route in all cases. Of course charity does include admonishing the sinner, but be very discerning and loving when you do.


Fraternal correction is charity in action when done properly. If you were to see your neighbor about to fall into a pit of fire of which he is unaware, would you not in charity point out to him his grave danger of falling into the fire? Likewise, if you have a neighbor in danger of falling into hellfire (let’s say he is fornicating and knows the Church’s teaching), would it not be charity to help him see his grave danger and help him to avoid “falling into the pit of fire,” that is, if he appears open to fraternal correction and you can speak to him lovingly? God bless you.


But how do we know we have the discernment to either perceive or proceed properly when correcting another? It seems to me the traps far outweigh any potential good.


to me the means that you must avoid being an hypocrite that correct others to lessen your faults, kinda like the kid that goes: “but they started/did something wrong”, or also that you should not try to correct others when you are not able to do it correctly.

the thing about not being our obligation, its because the example he gives is when somebody does it out of vanity and not love, also I’d like to add about the rules for fraternal correction, if they are not met we are not obliged and sometimes even we must not try to correct them, least we make the matters worst.


Seraphim73 #11
But how do we know we have the discernment to either perceive or proceed properly when correcting another? It seems to me the traps far outweigh any potential good.

Precisely because real Catholics listen and learn from the Vicars of Christ, promote and carry out the teaching of Christifideles Laici, as many of us do. The development of the mission of the laity corresponds to the needs of the times as seen in Christifideles Laici (on the Vocation and Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World), the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation of St John Paul II, 1988, #3:
“A new state of affairs today both in the Church and in social, economic, political and cultural life, calls with a particular urgency for the action of the lay faithful. If lack of commitment is always unacceptable, the present time renders it even more so. It is not permissible for anyone to remain idle.”

The reality is that the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation *Christifideles Laici *(on the Vocation and the Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World) 1988, detailed “the ‘Criteria of Ecclesiality’ for Lay Groups” as requiring “The responsibility of professing the Catholic faith, embracing and proclaiming the truth about Christ, the Church and humanity, in obedience to the Church’s Magisterium, as the Church interprets it.” #30, my emphasis].

  1. “Without doubt a mending of the Christian fabric of society is urgently needed in all parts of the world. But for this to come about what is needed is to first remake the Christian fabric of the ecclesial community itself present in these countries and nations.

“In the case of coming generations, the lay faithful must offer the very valuable contribution, more necessary than ever, of a systematic work in catechesis. The Synod Fathers have gratefully taken note of the work of catechists, acknowledging that they “have a task that carries great importance in animating ecclesial communities”(125). It goes without saying that Christian parents are the primary and irreplaceable catechists of their children, a task for which they are given the grace by the Sacrament of Matrimony. At the same time, however, we all ought to be aware of the “rights” that each baptized person has to being instructed, educated and supported in the faith and the Christian life.

“At this moment the lay faithful, in virtue of their participation in the prophetic mission of Christ, are fully part of this work of the Church. Their responsibility, in particular, is to testify how the Christian faith constitutes the only fully valid response – consciously perceived and stated by all in varying degrees – to the problems and hopes that life poses to every person and society.”


Real Catholics? :confused:


The motivator for fraternal correction must be love.



Thank you all for your replies. What I gathered so far from your answers was that one should admonish with a loving heart and not a self-righteous one. One should also only admonish if the person seems open to correction.

But, I have only seen one answer so far that pertained to my other question: Does one have to be absolutely perfect to admonish another person? Would you please cite the Catechism, Bible, or any other Church document to support your answers?


As Po18guy says, “The motivator for fraternal correction must be love.” Love does not see evil where there is no evil, and love is kind: therefore, with love fraternal correction will be properly given. God bless you.


There can be lots of harm done out of love. Discernment is what is required to offer correction. Love does not grant discernment. That is a gift from God.


There is acquired discernment and the spiritual gift of discernment. One way to discern is if in your judgement the recipient of an admonishment is humble enough to receive it, this takes knowledge of the recipient’s personality. this can be done especially if the recipient is a friend. If the person is not a personal friend, you can use diplomacy or even generalize the fault, and putting yourself in his position, to lessen the sting of the admonishment. If moved by charity in the first place, and the person takes offense after your efforts to be kind, then be prepared for a negative reaction and say to yourself “Lord, I tried”

I had to do this to my supervisor. He was making demands on fellow-workers, that I knew when he was in the lower ranks didn’t do so good himself. Fortunately I was his friend, and I could talk to him as a friend. When I told him my observations of him before he made supervisor, he even smiled and said " I didn’t like to work" As I left him to his thoughts, that still small voice somewhere in the realm of my thought life said “say something nice to him” I returned and mentioned somethings I thought he done well as a supervisor. That day I saw his attitude change for the better, and I received a fine job appraisal from him. Who knows what the Lord can do!! I always ask the Holy Spirit to lead me, it takes courage and charity to admonish a fellow human. We have to step out in faith, especially when we know the truth, and in charity try to help the person trusting that God is in control.

It should be obvious that we don’t have to be perfect before we admonish someone in charity, and anger must not be present, for anger can be the opposite of charity. Jesus said “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” He indicates perfection is something to be striven for, not necessarily acquired. He also said “Nothing imperfect will enter Heaven” so trials on earth take on a “purifying” aspect “Like gold being refined in a fire” The practice of charity is causing one to be perfect. Faith and Hope will vanish, only Charity will remain.


I disagree. It is misguided compassion and natural love which can wreak problems, not true love (charity). Read about charity in the Scriptures and you’ll see that with true charity there is proper discernment:

Corinthians 13: 1-13

1IF I speak with the tongues of men, and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2And if I should have prophecy and should know all mysteries, and all knowledge, and if I should have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3And if I should distribute all my goods to feed the poor, and if I should deliver my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

4Charity is patient, is kind: charity envieth not, dealeth not perversely; is not puffed up; 5Is not ambitious, seeketh not her own, is not provoked to anger, thinketh no evil; 6Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth with the truth; 7Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

8Charity never falleth away: whether prophecies shall be made void, or tongues shall cease, or knowledge shall be destroyed. 9For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10But when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away. 11When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But, when I became a man, I put away the things of a child. 12We see now through a glass in a dark manner; but then face to face. Now I know I part; but then I shall know even as I am known. 13And now there remain faith, hope, and charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity.

God bless you.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit