I am aware of some fraud being committed by my relatives. I spoke to a priest and nun about this and both told me that I had no obligation to report it because it can have detrimental effect on my family relationships and my emotional health.
I agreed with them until I recently saw a quote from the Catechism of the Council of Trent which relates to restitution/responsibility of theft:
The sixth class is constituted of those who are well aware that the theft was committed, and when it was committed; and yet, far from mentioning it, pretend they know nothing about it.
The last class comprises all who assist in the accomplishment of theft, who guard, defend, receive or harbour thieves.
All these are bound to make restitution to those from whom anything has been stolen, and are to be earnestly exhorted to the discharge of so necessary a duty.
You might look at this as an opportunity for fraternal correction, as in Matthew 18:15:
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.”
I would advise caution about applying the next two verses (Matthew 18:16-17) unless you are in a position of authority and there is a reasonable chance that you can change the other person’s heart.
If these relatives are your parents or elders, there is only so much you can do. Jesus did not tell you to call the police or other civil authorities. The idea is not to bust your relatives and bring them to justice so that you may feel righteous. The idea is to gain them (win them over) for God, for their own good.
Most likely this will take time and patient effort. Speak to them when you think the time is right (when they are most receptive). Appeal to their sense of justice and love by, for example, pointing out the harm they are bringing to others and themselves. Pray for them. If you need more assistance, discuss it again with a priest, nun, or teacher.
I think the OP was referring to the bit about “those who are well aware … and yet, far from mentioning it, pretend they know nothing about it,” although he/she has, in fact, mentioned it to a priest, a nun, and us here at CAF, but is wondering if he/she should “report it.”
You could provide them with information alerting them about what constitutes fraud in this situation and the consequences of such. I am speaking of outside printed documents, not your opinion or what you think you know of the issue.
You can express your concern about the consequences both legal and spiritual.
Beyond that I would discuss it with your confessor.
I do believe there are instances where reporting them would be necessary, depending on the gravity of the situation. But I don’t think this would be necessary in every situation.
Recently I was in a similar situation with a friend, and I alerted them of what constituted fraud and the legal ramifications. That was enough for them to rethink their choices.
You go back and tell your relatives you were wrong - that you don’t agree with what their doing - you correct your wrong and set the right example - if they refuse to listen then the consequences of their actions should they get caught are on them. You have cleaned up your side of the street.
I am not sure. Whatever you do, it should be for the love of another. Do not seek righteousness in the manner of a Pharisee, who is concerned more about his own holiness than the well-being of other people. How can you best work for the good of your dishonest relatives and the people they are defrauding?
One problem with reporting is that it causes some harm to your relatives. It is very likely to damage family relations, and the lawful punishment may be too severe (possibly far beyond restitution). Another problem is that reporting is not likely to solve the basic problem of your relatives’ greed and dishonesty. In other words, reporting may not be an effective means to help them repent and turn away from their sin. It may even have the opposite effect, hardening their hearts and making it even more difficult for them to repent.
I think reporting is like a blunt instrument and should be used only if there is no other way to prevent greater harm. For example, if the relatives were taking money from a charity that provides food and shelter for the poor, their actions might cause grievous harm to those in need. If you had talked to them and tried to persuade them to stop, but they persisted in their crime, then reporting it might be the most effective way to make sure the poor people received the help they need. You would do it not for your own righteousness, or in order to bring your relatives to justice, but for the good of the poor people who were adversely affected.
For your dishonest relatives, the greatest good work you can perform is to help them to come closer to God, to obey the commandments, and to serve others. I think the most effective way to accomplish that is to make them want to do it out of love, not fear. That is not easy. As I wrote previously, it will take time and patient effort.
I believe there is a difference between* ‘pretend they know nothing about it’ and ‘tell the authorities about it’*. Especially depending on what it is (The severity and especially whether there are ‘victims’ involved) and who the authorities are (What they’ll do).
I believe that is primarily referring to those who benefit off of some activity that someone else is committing that they know in their hearts to be wrong and thus turning a ‘blind eye’ to it precisely because they are a beneficiary of that activity.
If you aren’t a beneficiary of such activities, than I believe your not turning a* ‘blind eye’* to it or ‘pretending you know nothing about it’.
p.s. If it’s in relation to say a small tax deduction that they shouldn’t be claiming or something of that nature, in that case I would advise against reporting it and I would obey the advice of your confessor.