Teachers Detracting to Students

I have noticed that Professors often tell stories of students (or others) that may not always portray them in a perfect light. I know we are supposed to stop gossip, but this seems next to impossible in class. I’ve asked Father and he recommended raising my hand. While it is good advice, it’s not always possible.

Are we guilty of detraction if we do nothing?

Unless he is specifically naming them, he is using their foibles as teaching points. If you cannot id the individual, then I don’t think it falls under the heading of gossip. It’s more like a modern version of Aesop’s Fables. Life stories that teach. Or even the parables of Jesus

Your post is a good example - I cannot identify any given individual, it’s just a generalization.

Is he calling them all out by name? That would be a problem. However, if he’s just using “a student” said or did something – that’s just an example. It’s really not gossip or detraction.

If you really believe what they are doing is wrong…You need to stop telling us about professors that are not portraying students in a good light.
You are doing the same thing you are accusing them of doing. You are telling us a story about your professors and not portraying them in a good light.

As others have said, if they are not using someone’s name, they are anecdotal and most likely being used as an example or a teaching moment. The professors are not gossiping.

Thanks for the replies! Gossip is something that is really confusing to me. I have no idea when it is venial or mortal, and I have no idea as to what constitutes as gossip/detraction or just people telling stories. :shrug:

Like you telling us, you mean?

Do you honestly think that gossiping is of such moral significance that it will cause you eternal separation from God? And since you admit that you don’t know the meaning of detraction, why are you always posting questions about it?

It’s detraction if it’s true and hurts another person’s reputation without a proportionate reason. Most of the old-time moralists said that the general rule is this: If a serious sin is revealed, it’s a serious sin of detraction. But the circumstances can mitigate or worsen the sin.

The faithful and holy Jesuit, Fr. John Hardon, wrote this in his catechism (1975 ed.), which represents the gentlest position I know of:

The seriousness of the sin committed will mainly derive from the gravity of the fault or limitation disclosed. But it will also depend on the dignity of the person detracted and the harm done to him and others by revealing something that is hidden and whose disclosure lowers (if it does not ruin) his standing in the public eye. …
When the revelation of another person’s fault is necessary or very useful, as in defense of self or of others, no injustice is done in revealing it. This would be the case when the failing or defect is made known to parents, or superiors, or for the purpose of seeking counsel or help, or to prevent harm to others, though again, there must be adequate proportion between the lessening of a person’s reputation (which is not intended) and the good to be achieved by the disclosure (which is intended). This would cover such contingencies such as anticipating unjust harm to oneself in the law courts, or even seeking consolation of a trusted friend by revealing the injustice done.
The Catholic Catechism: A Contemporary Catechism of the Teachings of the Catholic Church, p. 409

Pray for Fr. Hardon’s canonization!

If you paid attention to what you are supposed to learn in school, rather than wondering if your instructors are sinning, you might know what is wrong with your title. :rolleyes:

Hi Melodeonist,

If you aren’t sure of the seriousness of a situation or whether or not something is a sin, and what type/what degree of sin it is, then I would recommend asking a priest to clarify this for you the next time that you go to Confession.

I have personally done this myself when I’m not sure when something–or some situation is sinful–and I personally feel that this is the best person to ask so that we know what to do/how to handle a situation the next time that we might be faced with it again.

I do understand your confusion and concern, because I feel that you try and do what’s right and you try and be aware of what’s happening around you. :slight_smile:

May God bless your efforts!

Praying for you.

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