Tuesday, December 03, 2002

Rash judgment, detraction, and calumny are all still sins

During the Thanksgiving holiday I was sent an email seeking my input and forwarding another email accusing a member of the archdiocesan clergy of having paid fines for patronizing red-light districts. I emailed back, but it still bugs me in my spirit --- why do we do these things to one another? And did I answer rightly? Should I have answered at all? When will this fashion to accuse others pass away? Here, edited to protect all identities except my own, is what I responded; and that I worry over.

I have no special knowledge of this particular thing, although all the names are familiar. My job is to pray for the City and Archdiocese of Milwaukee, and sometimes I pray for the Milwaukee clergy by reciting the list of names from the Wisconsin Catholic Directory, holding each one up before our Lord.

_If_ the facts are as they are stated, there is a priest who has had difficulty maintaining a life of chaste celibacy. He may need more that usual help and support from his father the bishop, and maybe specialized help as well. _However_, I would read this with more than the usual amount of salt, given the source. What is said may not be correct, or may not be presented truthfully. (Here in Milwaukee, we have many more crazy faction fighters of all fringes than most other places; and they tend to be more vicious also.)

Your correspondent indicates that he has contacted the Archbishop; this was a right thing. And, in fact, a move to [small rural town] may be a very good thing, since there are no red-light districts in [small rural town] to be near occasions for one who is weak regarding chastity, and there are many such districts in Milwaukee County.

Yet, is any of this our business? Neither of us is the bishop; +Timothy is the bishop, and +Rembert before him. And neither of us is Father's confessor or his spiritual director. The Catechism at # 2477-2479 has strong teaching about the great evils of rash judgment, detraction, and calumny. It is sin to make another person's faults known to one who does not already know them, even if what is said is true. If it is not true, it is even worse. We must approach anything like this with great caution and much prayer, keeping always in mind that we ourselves have done spectacularly stupid things we wouldn't want to be flaunted in public.

I do hope I have not scandalized you in this.

Lord, come to our assistance. Holy Mary, Mother of the Church, pray for us.

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