Secrets

This is not about my personal life but i just wanted to know if someone told you a secret about someone else but is serious that the other person should know, or if you find out for example a girl or guy you know is cheating on their spouse and you catch one of them – would you tell their spouse? Situations like that, what would be entitled to do? Just stay out of it, or what?

Hi HNA444!

Hmm. That’s an interesting question.

I would say we are obligated to keep secret the things told to us in confidence. Unless doing so would cause serious harm to someone, I don’t think we have a right to disclose what is told to us in confidence.

The CCC states that people have a right to a good reputation, and we should do our best to uphold it. I would say that would obligate us to not disclose any “dirty secrets” we learn of another. Source below:

2479 Detraction and calumny destroy the reputation and honor of one’s neighbor. Honor is the social witness given to human dignity, and everyone enjoys a natural right to the honor of his name and reputation and to respect. Thus, detraction and calumny offend against the virtues of justice and charity.

As far as walking in on a situation like someone cheating, etc. I would say, if you knew the person well, you should encourage the person to holiness, try and get them to stop, etc. But I wouldn’t disclose it to the wronged spouse. Ideally, that should come from the spouse who cheated, if it is going to be disclosed at all.

Hope that helps!

I agree with some of what you say. Of course you should honor the secrets of others, UNLESS they cause serious injury or harm to either themselves, or others. You should counsel them to get help for sure, and try to guide them to fix the mess they are in.

However, devulging a secret to an affected party that would cause potential harm, is not a strike on the person’s reputation or dignity. People are responsible for their own actions. And the quote taken from the CCC above pertains to deliberately trying to harm someone’s reputation and spreading rumors. There’s a difference between spreading rumors and devulging a secret to an appropriate party who can potentially be hurt by the ‘secret’ and can take steps to help either the offending party, the victim or both.

In the cheating example, I would absolutely tell the person to either fess up to his/her partner or you would go tell them yourself, and I would follow through. Putting the other person at risk for disease is a serious offense against the innocent party and they deserve the ability to protect themselves by being informed that they are in such danger. STDs are nothing small to play with, they are very serious and can affect people, and those they love, for the rest of their lives and should not be taken lightly…

No I would certainly not betray a confidence, nor would I pass in information that would be detraction as defined above. The only time that rule does not apply is when the safety of a minor is at stake, and then the person to contact is the parent, or if the threat is from the parent, CPS. Passing on gossip no matter what you call it is one of the most destructive sins against the 8th & 5th commandments. No one has the right to interfere in the relationship of a married couple in that way either. Again the only exception would mean if someone is in actual danger, suicide threat for instance.

What if you found out the secret on your own and it had to do with your best friend, sister, or someone you loved? Would you not tell them? I always thought that if I found out something like a secret about someone else I would feel bad not telling the other person, but i guess it’s not right to do that.

I would. Go by the golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. What if you were the affected party? Would you want someone to let you know?

I would feel horrible if someone got hurt because I withheld information that could have prevented it, or stopped it from happening.

Why don’t you ask a priest?

absolutely not, it is none of my business, it is like the seal of the confessional, if I accidentally heard part of your confession I would behave as if I never heard it and do my best to put that knowledge out of my mind.

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