Fraternal Correction
See also Judging, Gossip

Fraternal correction is an integral part of Christian life because it is an act of charity. It is direct with the person, not criticism of a third party.

According to Benedict XVI, it "has its source in the communion of the Trinity" and noted that based on Matthew 18, "brotherly love also includes reciprocal responsibility, on account of which, if my brother sins against me, I must be charitable to him and, first of all, speak with him personally, showing him that that what he said or did is not good."

"This way of behaving is called fraternal correction: it is not a reaction to the offense I have suffered but a being moved by love for my brother."

"And what if my brother does not listen to me?", asked the pope. The Gospel calls for a gradual approach: "First go back and talk to him with two or three other persons so as to help him better grasp what he has done; if despite this he rejects the observation, the community must be told; and if he does not listen to the community either, it is necessary to make him see the rupture that he himself has provoked, separating himself from the Church."

"All of this shows that there is a co-responsibility in the journey of the Christian life," the Pope concluded. "Everyone, conscious of his own limits and defects, is called to welcome fraternal correction and to help others with this particular service."

-Ben XVI on fraternal correction

The approach to correction in the pope's talk is based on charity. Correction does not focus on how we feel about what other did but on seeking to help the other and bring good order in relationships. 

We should not correct someone as a reaction to a behavior that bothers us. It is wise to wait until we have found inner peace and we have forgiven from the heart before we attempt to correct. Then we pray and discern if such correction would do good. Some times it is not our place or we lack the relationship with the person to do the correction. Discernment develops as we live in Christ.

Fraternal correction is part of the way of life for persons who are committed to help each other grow in holiness, such as family and covenant community members. 

We should keep in mind Jesus' teaching in Luke 6:40-42:

Why do you observe the splinter in your brother’s eye and never notice the plank in your own? How can you say to your brother, "Brother, let me take out the splinter that is in your eye," when you cannot see the plank in your own? Hypocrite! Take the plank out of your own eye first, and then you will see clearly enough to take out the splinter that is in your brother’s eye.’ 

This is not to discourage fraternal correction but rather puts it in the right perspective. We too are sinners and need help. Only if we humbly recognize our own condition and are willing to be corrected can we help others.


Love Crucified