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


I don’t know where this urge to correct others comes from but it doesn’t seem to be in line with what the fathers say. Just look at post number 8 on this thread. I’ll also quote from a very famous book on the spiritual life from St Ignatius Brianchaninov called The Arena. He relays a story from the desert fathers from St Poemen.

Worldly people and many living the religious life, through ignorance and inexperience, often praise as spiritual zeal something that stems from conceit and pride. They extol this zeal as zeal for the faith, for piety, for the Church, for God. It consists in a more or less harsh criticism and condemnation of one’s neighbors in their moral faults, and in faults against decorum in church and the liturgical rites. Deceived by a wrong conception of zeal, the imprudent think that by yielding themselves to it they are imitating the holy fathers and martyrs, forgetting that they, the zealots, are not saints but sinners themselves.

Whoever decides of his own self-will to convict his brother or make some reprimand, clearly reveals and proves that he considers himself more prudent and virtuous than the person he blames, and that he is acting at the instigation of passion and deception and diabolic thoughts.

Saint Poemen the Great relates that a certain monk, carried away by zeal, was subjected to the following temptation. He saw another monk lying on a woman. For a long time he wrestled with the thought that urged him to stop them from sinning. At last he gave into the temptation and he gave them a kick with his foot. Suddenly he realized that it was two sheaves of wheat lying one upon the other. - Bishop Ignatius Brianchaninov


I personally do not have an urge to admonish anyone,and I usually don’t unless I’m driven to it. If I see a person making wrong decisions after others, or self try hard to correct him in his actions for his own good and the good of others I in charity have to speak up. I wound up loosing my job because there were unfair working practices taking place. I only demanded that what was our legitimate expectation and rights be implemented. I became a boat-rocker and they threw me overboard.


Well, in the quoted speech from PopeFrancis, it says:

“Fraternal reprimand is an act that heals the Body of the Church. There’s a tear, there, in the fabric of the Church that we must mend. And like mothers and grandmothers, who mend so gently, so delicately, we must do likewise when we want to reprimand our brother.”

I think this may be where the urge comes from.

I’m afraid that I have to disagree with some of the sentiments in your quoted passage. Possibly the saint was wrong (it can happen) or possibly it is the translation. But it is certainly not necessary to think that you are better than someone else in order to want to help them see some fault they may not have realized. One never can or should try to judge the spiritual state of another (e.g. “this person is on the way to Hell,”) but if they are performing an act that can be sinful, it is not charitable to ignore it. Besides, in Mt. 18:15-17, Jesus tells us to do it.

It’s just that, as Pope Francis says, there are a lot of wrong ways to do it. So, we must closely examine ourselves before deciding whether to attempt it, so that we do not do more harm than good.



Fraternal correction is NOT about zeal and condemnation: it is about charity - it is about trying to save the soul of a neighbor who has gone astray. Admonishing the sinner is a spiritual work of MERCY. God bless you.


Everyone who presumes to offer correction thinks they are doing it out of love and charity.


It’s not just one saint. It’s a constant theme in the desert fathers and monastic writings throughout the centuries.


No, this is not true. Some people offer correction because they want to “put another person in their place” or they want to condemn another or belittle another or make themselves somehow superior to another, charity is far from their heart.

Before fraternally correcting a person who has gone astray we should pray to the Holy Ghost for the right words to be said at the right time, we should not speak when the time is not right or when the person is not open to fraternal correction; to do so would be a failure, and not what fraternal correction is about.

God bless you.


Seraphim73 #21
I don’t know where this urge to correct others comes from but it doesn’t seem to be in line with what the fathers say.

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

As Fr Thomas Dubay, S.M. lucidly explains in Authenticity (A Biblical Theology of Discernment), Ignatius, 1997, p 136:
“Paul wants the Colossians to teach and admonish one another (Col 3:16).”
“Jude wishes the brothers to correct the confused in their community.” (Jude 22).
“Jesus Himself had already said that if a brother offends, one is to go to him and admonish him in order to win him back to health (Mt 18:15f)."

So, in his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation *Christifideles Laici *(on the Vocation and the Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World) 1988, St John Paul II teaches:
Extract #44:
“The Church evangelizes when she seeks to convert, solely through the divine power of the message she proclaims (cf. Rom 1:16; 1 Cor 1:18; 2:4), both the personal and collective consciences of people, the activities in which they engage, and the lives and concrete milieux which are theirs. Strata of humanity are transformed: for the Church it is a question not only of preaching the Gospel in ever-wider geographic areas or to ever-greater numbers of people, but also of affecting and as it were challenging, through the power of the Gospel, mankind’s criteria of judgment, determining values, points of interest, lines of thought, sources of inspiration and models of life, which are in contrast with the Word of God and the plan of salvation. All this could be expressed in the following words: What matters is to evangelize humanity’s culture and the cultures of the human family… the split between the Gospel and culture is without a doubt the drama of our time, just as it was of other times. Therefore, every effort must be made to ensure a full evangelization of culture, or more correctly of cultures”(165).

Extract #64:
‘The whole Church, Pastors and lay faithful alike, standing on the threshold of the Third Millennium, ought to feel more strong]y the Church’s responsibility to obey the command of Christ, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation” (Mk 16:15), and take up anew the missionary endeavour. A great venture, both challenging and wonderful, is entrusted to the Church – that of a re-evangelization, which is so much needed by the present world. The lay faithful ought to regard themselves as an active and responsible part of this venture, called as they are to proclaim and to live the gospel in service to the person and to society while respecting the totality of the values and needs of both.’


Thanks! God bless you!


Remember the days of old,
Consider the years of many generations.
Ask your father, and he will show you;
Your elders, and they will tell you - Deuteronomy 32:7

Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away - Hebrews 2:1

I thought it was a basic premise of Catholic exegesis that we should rely on the fathers understanding and not our own when reading scripture?


Catholics rely on the Magisterium to guide them, as in Posts #13 and #28 . The Fathers cannot contradict St Paul, St Jude, Jesus Himself, and His Magisterium as seen in post #28. The Fathers are not necessarily correct on everything.

The fraternal correction is to be done

  1. Gently and with patience (2Tim 2:25)
  2. In private unless there is a refusal to be corrected. (Mt 18:15-18).
  3. In all wisdom. (Col 16:18).
    (Fr Dubay, op. cit., post #28, p 137)


Dear Abu,

You know the Church’s teaching on fraternal correction. God bless you!

Yours in Mary Immaculate Queen,

closed #33

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