Friday, March 04, 2005

Gossip and slander

Dr. Germain Grisez, one of the most respected moral theologians in the United States, explains that: "It is a normal and valuable exercise of community for members of a group to exchange information about the personal doings and concerns of other members just insofar as doing so arises from love and contributes to cooperation and help for those in need. When it does not arise from love and merely serves curiosity, however, it is gossip: idle talk which treats those discussed as objects of astonishment, amusement, and so forth. Gossip is sinful, for it is idle talk, not directed toward building up community."

And with regards to slander, or calumny, he has this to say: "Detraction (also called 'defamation') is any act of communication that wrongfully sullies an individual's or group's reputation. It takes two forms: lying and communicating truths which should not be communicated. The former is called 'calumny'; the latter is simply called 'detraction.' Because of the good at stake and the violation of justice and love involved, all detraction, even that involving no lie, is of itself grave matter, although it admits of parvity of matter."

Do we engage in calumny or detraction? Do we listen to it willingly? If so, we should have recourse to the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

God love you,
Paul Anthony Melanson

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