What about lying in undercover work?


In the moral theology forum I posted a similar question, but no definitive answers arose.

Is it sinful to tell someone a lie in an effort to preserve cover if you’re a policeman or a spy doing work ordered by a legitimate government authority?


Dear Shralp,

The Catechism states that lying is never to be allowed (#2485) since the only purpose of speech is to communicate known truth to others. It is important to note, however that the Catechism is written for the ordinary Catholic in ordinary situations. Some theologians warn that there are extraordinary occasions where to tell the truth could cause a greater harm than the harm done by withholding it. Such would be the extraordinary occasions where a life or many lives can lie in the balance as the result of the truth an undercover agent conveys or chooses not to convey.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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