Several articles in recent weeks have been presenting an examination of
conscience. They can be found in the archives of this website. I encourage you to print these
articles out and refer to them for helping you make a good confession.
My reference is a booklet entitled: A Contemporary Adult Guide to
Conscience for the Sacrament of Confession by Fr. Richard J. Rego.
I continue with the study of the Eighth Commandment: “You shall not bear
false witness against
This Commandment forbids detraction, calumny, lies, gossip, revealing of
secrets, rash judgments,
and critical, negative, and uncharitable talk. Even flattery or adulation
can be sinful sometimes.
Calumny is the act of telling untruths about others thereby ruining their
reputation by lying about them. Everyone has a right to his good name and reputation. To knowingly
and willingly tell lies about
anyone is to sin against the Eighth Commandment. If involving grave matter,
it could be a serious sin.
Detraction is the act of revealing the real faults and failings of others
without a good reason to
someone who did not know them.
Rash judgment is the act of judging another of a moral fault without
having sufficient foundation
for doing so. One can commit this sin without ever speaking of the fault to
another. We must make sure
of our facts before we “condemn” another, even in our thoughts.
Lying is the act of deliberately telling an untruth for the purpose of
deceiving another. It could be
a mortal sin, if a person lies deliberately under oath, as in a courtroom
Moral law DOES permit mental reservation, however, which is no sin at
Mental reservation is
the act of veiling the truth because we are bound in conscience to do so as
in the case of protecting a
person’s reputation. The late, great Father John Hardon in his book entitled "The Catholic
Catechism" wrote regarding
the justification of using mental reservation: “The main reason is the need
for preserving secrecy, where
the value to the common good is greater than would be the manifestation of
something that is sure to
Mental reservations must be used with prudence.
In the previous book mentioned, Fr. Hardon explains three kinds of
“Natural secrets are
those that common sense (right reason) tells us are to be kept confidential.
Promised secrets are those
that a person has promised to keep after having received or come upon the
confidential knowledge. ...
Entrusted (or committed) secrets ... must be kept hidden because of an
agreement reached before the
confidential information was given.” Professional secrets belong to this
If by flattery, adulation, or complaisance one encourages and confirms
another in malicious acts
and perverse conduct, they can be considered sins.
If a person tells a lie about another, justice and truth demands
reparation and effort to set the
People who work in social communications have a serious responsibility to
speak truth. The
Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “By the very nature of their
profession, journalists have an
obligation to serve the truth and not offend against charity in disseminating
information. They should
strive to respect, with equal care, the nature of the facts and the limits of
critical judgment concerning
individuals. They should not stoop to defamation. (Paragraph 2497)
We can see how this defamation today has turned into
the "politics of personal destruction," particularly among the secular media who betray our trust.
God bless you, dear reader. More next week.
Sister Mary Lucy Astuto