When is detraction mortally sinful?

Hello all, I just have a quick moral question.

Through habit I sometimes commit the sin of detraction. I am trying my best to overcome it and have made great strides, but would like a few things clarified- what factors affect whether the sin is mortal or venial? I have come to the conclusion that if I speak of someone else’s mortal sins it is a mortal sin- another’s venial sins a venial sin, etc. I also understand that the number of persons one tells detractions to and the person in question affect the gravity of the sin- is this true?

Thank you very much for your time

Detraction (gossiping about people’s flaws) is something people do to hurt others because they believe it will make others respect THEM more or see them as better people or more holy and pious individuals than they really are. Quite the contrary is true.

Learn to recognize in yourself the beautiful, kind, and humble person you are and you will no longer feel the need to hurt others.

Amen. Great advice. I struggle with this myself. I hate the back-biting. I hate it, but I have certain friends, not too many, but a few, with whom I engage in it from time to time. Whenever I do so, I feel like a worm afterward. :o

It’s hard not to slam others, when you know they’re trashing you behind your back. Nonetheless, this is part of our daily battle to be Christians.

Hi Juan Carlos:

From the Catholic Encyclopaedia:

*Detraction in a general sense is a mortal sin, as being a violation of the virtue not only of charity but also of justice. It is obvious, however, that the subject-matter of the accusation may be so inconspicuous or, everything considered, so little capable of doing serious hurt that the guilt is not assumed to be more than venial. The same judgment is to be given when, as not unfrequently happens, there has been little or no advertence to the harm that is being done.

The determination of the degree of sinfulness of detraction is in general to be gathered from the consideration of the amount of harm the defamatory utterance is calculated to work. In order to adequately measure the seriousness of the damage wrought, due regard must be had not only to the imputation itself but also to the character of the person by whom and against whom the charge is made. That is, we must take into account not only the greater or lesser criminality of the thing alleged but also the more or less distinguished reputation of the detractor for trustworthiness, as well as the more or less notable dignity or estimation of the person whose good name has been assailed.

Thus it is conceivable that a relatively small defect alleged against a person of eminent station, such as a bishop, might seriously tarnish his good name and be a mortal sin, whilst an offence of considerable magnitude attributed to an individual of a class in which such things frequently happen might constitute only a venial sin, such as, for instance, to say that a common sailor had been drunk. It is worthy of note that the manifestation of even inculpable defects may be a real defamation, such as to charge a person with gross ignorance, etc. When this is done in such circumstances as to bring upon the person so disparaged a more than ordinary measure of disgrace, or perhaps seriously prejudice him, the sin may even be a grievous one.*

You’re on the right track in your resolution to root out this habit. Keep working on it!. Everyone has a right to their good name, even if they don’t really deserve it.

Hope that helps. :slight_smile:

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