Gossip, Disinformation, Defamation, Slander, Detraction

See also: Cathechism #2464f.  Judging otherscriticism


Defamation - Slander
Whoever unjustly takes away his neighbor's good name is guilty of sin and is obliged to make reparatation, according to the nature of what he has said unjustly. For no one can enter heaven loaded with stolen goods, and of all worldly possessions the most precious is a good name. Slander is a kind of murder".  — St. Francis de Sales

Pope Francis
"All three - disinformation, defamation and slander - are sins! This is sin! It is to slap Jesus in the person of his children, his brothers... Rumors are destructive in the Church... It’s 'a little' like the spirit of Cain who killed his brother" -5/18/2013 >>>

St. Alphonsus Liguori advises us not to assume as true what we merely suspect, saying that “It sometimes happens that things are seen in a wrong light, and acts are taken for grievous faults when they are perhaps not even trivial defects.”

When we have achieved some virtue we are tempted to murmur against others which we judge to lack in it. We murmur when we fail to realize that any progress we have done is by the mercy of God, when we fail to see others with the love God has for them. We only see the outside that bothers us. By judging we are being like the Pharisees, self righteous.

Murmuring separates us from others and makes us incapable of evangelization, incapable of communicating God's love which brings life transformation. So we do not communicate that mercy to others rather we want to cut them off. Murmuring blinded the Pharisees so they could not see the miracles that Jesus was performing!

Even when we are faced with the actions of others that have all the signs of being sinful, it is not our place to judge or murmur. We pray for the person. We discern if we can help. It may be necessary to take action such as calling police, informing parents, protecting someone in danger, or talking to the person to help the see their error.
Murmuring often occurs within our heart even without telling anyone else. The Pharisees murmured against Jesus and against the woman who washed his feet with her tears. We see Jesus discovering the murmuring in their heart and facing them about this.

Murmuring reveals more of our own heart than the sin of the other.

Pope Francis
Unfortunately, we know well the sins against unity – jealousy, envy, antipathy – which come about when we place ourselves at the center and which occur even in our parish communities. God’s will, however, is that we grow in our capacity to welcome one another, to forgive and to love, and to resemble Jesus. This is the holiness of the Church – to recognize the image of God in one another. May we all examine our consciences and ask forgiveness for the times when we have given rise to division or misunderstanding in our communities, and may our relationships mirror more beautifully and joyfully the unity of Jesus and the Father. vatican.va

Pope Francis,  
Those who judge are hypocrites... murderers
Homily on Jesus’ query when he asked: "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?"
He said that, after having spoken about humility Jesus speaks to us of its opposite: "of that hateful attitude towards one’s neighbor when one becomes a "judge" of his brother". In this context Jesus uses a strong word: "hypocrite".

 "Those who live judging their neighbor, speaking ill of their neighbor, are hypocrites, because they lack the strength and the courage to look to their own shortcomings. The Lord does not waste many words on this concept. Further on he says that he who has hatred in his heart for his brother is a murderer. In his first letter, John the Apostle also says it clearly: anyone who has hatred for his brother is a murderer, he walks in darkness, he who judges his brother walks in darkness".

"And so, every time we judge our brothers in our hearts – or worse still when we speak ill of them with others, we are Christian murderers:

 "A Christian murderer…. It’s not me saying this, it’s the Lord. And there is no place for nuances. If you speak ill of your brother, you kill your brother. And every time we do this, we are imitating that gesture of Caine, the first murderer in History":

"...Gossip always has a criminal side to it. There is no such thing as innocent gossip". And quoting St. James the Apostle, the Pope said the tongue is to be used to praise God, "but when we use our tongue to speak ill of our brother or sister, we are using it to kill God", "the image of God in our brother". Some may say that there are persons who deserve being gossiped about. But it is not so: "Go and pray for him! Go and do penance for her! And then, if it is necessary, speak to that person who may be able to seek remedy for the problem. But don’t tell everyone! Paul had been a sinner, and he says of himself: I was once a blasphemer, a persecutor, a violent man. But I have been mercifully treated". Perhaps none of us are blasphemer – perhaps… But if we ever gossip we are certainly persecutors and violent. We ask for grace so that we and the entire Church may convert from the crime of gossip to love, to humility, to meekness, to docility, to the generosity of love towards our neighbor".  -9/13/2013  >>>

Pope Francis
Gossip violates 5th Commandment: It kills

...the fifth of the Ten Commandments: "You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shalt not kill’ ... But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to council" (v. 21-22). In this way, Jesus reminds us that words can kill! When we say that a person has the tongue of a snake, what does that mean? That their words kill! Not only is it wrong to take the life of another, but it is also wrong to bestow the poison of anger upon him, strike him with slander, and speak ill of him.

This brings us to gossip: gossip can also kill, because it kills the reputation of the person! It is so terrible to gossip! At first it may seem like a nice thing, even amusing, like enjoying a candy. But in the end, it fills the heart with bitterness, and even poisons us. What I am telling you is true, I am convinced that if each one of us decided to avoid gossiping, we would eventually become holy! What a beautiful path that is! Do we want to become holy? Yes or no? [The people: Yes!] Do we want to be attached to the habit of gossip? Yes or no? [The people: No!] So we agree then: no gossiping! Jesus offers the perfection of love to those who follow him: love is the only measure that has no measure, to move past judgements.

Love of neighbour is a fundamental attitude that Jesus speaks of, and he says that our relationship with God cannot be honest if we are not willing to make peace with our neighbour. He says: "So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift" (v. 23-24). Therefore we are called to reconcile with our neighbour before showing our devotion to the Lord in prayer.

In all of this we see that Jesus does not give importance simply to disciplinary compliance and exterior conduct. He goes to the Law’s roots focusing, first and foremost, on the intention and the human heart, from which our good and bad actions originate. To obtain good and honest conduct, legal rules are not enough. We need a deep motivation, an expression of a hidden wisdom, God’s wisdom, which can be received through the Holy Spirit. Through faith in Christ, we can open ourselves to the action of the Spirit which enable us to experience divine love.

In the light of Christ’s teaching, every precept reveals its full meaning as a requirement of love, and they all come together in the greatest commandment: to love God with all of your heart and to love your neighbour as yourself.

The Sin of Detraction
Saint Francis of Assisi >>>
“The vice of detraction, my brethren, is an enemy to the very source of piety and grace and is abominable to the most merciful God; because the detractor feeds on the blood of the souls he has murdered with the sword of his tongue. The impiety of the detractor is far greater than that of the theif, because the law of Christ (which is fulfilled by showing mercy) commands us to desire more ardently the salvation of the soul, than the safety of the body.
The Religious who murmurs against his brethren, or his superiors, what does he do but drench his Mother, holy Religion, with the gall of bitterness and insults? Detractors are of the generation of Cham, who ridiculed the shame of the father instead of hiding it; thus these make known and exaggerate the faults of their Superiors and their order and they consequently deserve to be cursed by God.
These, like swine, wallow in mire; for, after the manner of these unclean animals (being themselves far more unclean in their consciences), they feed and gorge themselves on the defects and weaknesses which they curiously seek for, and often falsely affirm they see and find in others; like mad dogs they grumble at religious discipline and correction; they bark against their Order and their Superiors; and when they can, they bite. This is what the detractor says: ‘My life is most imperfect, I have no particular grace or merit, therefore I cannot find favour either with God or man. I know what I will do. I will discover the defects of my brethren, and thus I shall obtain favour with my Superiors. I know they are men like unto myself, and in this way I may also get into office, because, when the cedars are fallen, the branches only will remain in the way.’
Alas! miserable man, feed thyself upon human flesh, and unable to live otherwise, gnaw the entrails of my brethren.
Detractors wish to appear good without being so, to declaim against vice, but not to give up practising it; they praise only those in authority, whose favour they wish to gain; and they never praise anyone unless they think he will hear of it. They make themselves pale with fasting for the sake of praise that they may be considered spiritual; they can judge all things, and may not be judged by any. They glory in the good opinion of men, not in good works; in having the name of angels, but not the virtues.”

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