jeudi 2 juin 2016

What Does the Church Teach About revealing the Sins of Others?


Ces extraits ont été pris dans  The Recusant n°31

The Catholic Encyclopaedia: “Detraction is the unjust damaging of another’s good name by the revelation of some fault or crime of which that other is really guilty or at any rate is seriously believed to be guilty by the defamer. […] There are times, nevertheless, when one may lawfully make known the offense of another even though as a consequence the trust hitherto reposed in him be rudely shaken or shattered. … Even when the sin is in no sense public, it may still be divulged without contravening the virtues of justice or charity whenever such a course is for the common good or is esteemed to make for the good of the narrator, of his listeners, or even of the culprit. The right which the latter has to an assumed good name is extinguished in the presence of the benefit which may be conferred in this way. The employment of this teaching, however, is limited by a twofold restriction. 
 The damage which one may soberly apprehend as emerging from the failure to reveal another’s sin or vicious propensity must be a notable one as contrasted with the evil of defamation. 
 No more in the way of exposure should be done than is required, and even a fraternal admonition ought rather to be substituted if it can be discerned to adequately meet the needs of the situation. ” 

1917 Code of Canon Law: 
Canon 1935: “ 
§1. However, any faithful is always allowed to denounce the crime of another, to ask for satisfaction or reparation of damages, or also for love of Justice, so that some scandal or evil may be repaired.
§2. Furthermore, there exists an obligation to denounce in all those cases in which such obligation is imposed by some law or particular legitimate precept, or even by the same natural right, for reason of danger to the faith or religion, or by cause of any other imminent public harm.” (§1. Quilibet tamen fidelium semper potest delictum alterius denuntiare ad satisfactionem petendam vel damnum sibi resarciendum, vel etiam studio iustitiae ad alicuius scandali vel mali reparationem. §2. Imo obligatio denuntiationis urget quotiescunque ad id quis adigitur sive lege vel peculiari legitimo praecepto, sive ex ipsa naturali lege ob fidei vel religionis periculum vel aliud imminens publicum malum.)


[Summa theologica]

“With regard to the public denunciation of sins it is necessary to make a distinction: because sins may be either public or secret. In the case of public sins, a remedy is required not only for the sinner, that he may become better, but also for others, who know of his sin, lest they be scandalized. Wherefore such like sins should be denounced in public, according to the saying of the Apostle (1 Timothy 5:20): “Them that sin reprove before all, that the rest also may have fear,” which is to be understood as referring to public sins, as Augustine states (De Verb. Dom. xvi, 7). 

On the other hand, in the case of secret sins, the words of Our Lord seem to apply (Matt. 18:15): “If thy brother shall offend against thee,” etc. For if he offend thee publicly in the presence of others, he no longer sins against thee alone, but also against others whom he disturbs. Since, however, a man's neighbour may take offense even at his secret sins, it seems that we must make yet a further distinction. For certain secret sins are hurtful to our neighbour either in his body or in his soul, as, for instance, when a man plots secretly to betray his country to its enemies, or when a heretic secretly turns other men away from the faith. And since he that sins thus in secret, sins not only against you in particular, but also against others, it is necessary to take steps to denounce him at once, in order to prevent him doing such harm, unless by chance you were firmly persuaded that this evil result would be prevented by admonishing him secretly. 

On the other hand there are other sins which injure none but the sinner, and the person sinned against, either because he alone is hurt by the sinner, or at least because he alone knows about his sin, and then our one purpose should be to succour our sinning brother: and just as the physician of the body restores the sick man to health, if possible, without cutting off a limb, but, if this be unavoidable, cuts off a limb which is least indispensable, in order to preserve the life of the whole body, so too he who desires his brother's amendment should, if possible, so amend him as regards his conscience, that he keep his good name. For a good name is useful, first of all to the sinner himself, not only in temporal matters wherein a man suffers many losses, if he lose his good name, but also in spiritual matters, because many are restrained from sinning, through fear of dishonour, so that when a man finds his honour lost, he puts no curb on his sinning. Hence Jerome says on Matthew 18:15: “If he sin against thee, thou shouldst rebuke him in private, lest he persist in his sin if he should once become shameless or unabashed.” Secondly, we ought to safeguard our sinning brother's good name, both because the dishonour of one leads to the dishonour of others, according to the saying of Augustine (Ep. ad pleb. Hipponens. lxxviii): “When a few of those who bear a name for holiness are reported falsely or proved in truth to have done anything wrong, people will seek by busily repeating it to make it believed of all”: and also because when one man’s sin is made public others are incited to sin likewise. Since, however, one’s conscience should be preferred to a good name, Our Lord wished that we should publicly denounce our brother and so deliver his conscience from sin, even though he should forfeit his good name. Therefore it is evident that the precept requires a secret admonition to precede public denunciation.” (Summa Theologica, II.ii, Q.3, art.7, respondeo)