Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Slander and Detraction

A reader sent me a link to this excellent post about the dangers of slander and detraction, in the light of certain recent occurrences. It is worth pondering.

However, when a public announcement is made on television, giving details about a popular public figure, it is very difficult for people to refrain from discussing it, from sharing their distress and consternation with others. How did it happen? Why? How can such things be prevented? People were asking questions and wanted insights. Most of the commentary that I read was the result of pure shock. Sometimes people went overboard in their surmising. Passing judgment is something we all have to carefully avoid.

I do think that people have tried to be very charitable, for the most part. The reflections discussed here were not necessarily about Fr. Francis but about priests leaving in general. Is this something we are not allowed to discuss... at all?

Having been slandered myself by people who pretended to be friends, I certainly understand the direness of the situation. It is one thing to be slandered or suffer detraction because of an announcement one chose to have made on television. It is quite another to be slandered because of confidences shared with unscrupulous and superficially Catholic comrades. But God is the judge of all.

It should also be kept in mind that slander and detraction can have legal implications as well as moral ones. While some may not fear the judgment of Almighty God, they do fear a lawsuit. Share

10 comments:

Terry Nelson said...

EWTN and Francis Mary made this a matter of public record. Blogs are online conversations. In this situation, most people were simply trying to make sense of what amounted to public scandal - in the eyes of some that is - other people may not consider it scandalous when priest leaves.

elena maria vidal said...

I agree, Terry. People were shaken. Most of us were just trying to help each other make sense of it all.

Diane K said...

Elena, I don't think discussing the parts that were made public by EWTN was bad.

Perhaps what Fr. Benedict Groeschel was upset about was getting word that people had gone beyond what was revealed by Fr. Francis Mary himself in the EWTN letter and the friars in their statements. This may have been a post somewhere which was not visible to us. I agree that most people were charitable about it.

I myself made a post which also spoke about priests leaving in general, and more - about women allowing themselves to get too close to someone who is off limits. They have to recognize the signs and back off when they see it, lest they become an instrument of the Evil One.

elena maria vidal said...

Yes, Diane, that is how I view it and your post on it sounds like mine. In the past people were more careful about getting too close to priests and now we see the reasons why. I do think that it is good to occasionally bring up the problem of slander and detraction, not just about priests with problems, but on other levels, too. Many Catholic groups, many lives, many innocent people are effected by gossip, slander, calumny, and detraction. Thanks for your great post on it!

Diane K said...

"I do think that it is good to occasionally bring up the problem of slander and detraction, not just about priests with problems, but on other levels, too."

I have posted on it several times, and have spoke out against in the comment sections of certain Catholic blogs which could properly be looked upon as an electronic rag.

I actually had a person who was exploring the Catholic faith, who told me she was so turned off by that Halloween Mass, it just had her back off.

It's tempting to go after "hits", and that which generates the most hits are things of a scandalous nature. It's our lower apetites which crave these things and yet we don't take due care to starve those apetites.

I have permanently removed one such blog from my blog roll on account of the content which focuses mainly on the scandal of the day (not to mention vulgarity among other less than virtuous behaviors in the discussion of Catholic issues).

There are teens from my parish who check in on my blog on a regular basis and I have to always think not to scandalize them by content on my blog, as well as what is in the links I provide. If EWTN had not revealed what it had, I would not have bothered with the story.

Usually, the only thing I will carry now, for example, is stories where bishops stand up to people with problematic ideas and actions within the Church. Whereas publicizing a scandal alone causes anger and even despair for some, seeing a bishop act like a bishop can give people hope.

alaughland said...

I used to think the forum of public opinion engendered by TV makes people think they have permission to pass judgement about other's behaviors, but gossip is not new in spite of TV and other media. The school of hard knocks has taught me that a self-righteous judgmental attitude toward others will come back to haunt you.

elena maria vidal said...

I agree, Diane. You know, people's minds cannot deal with all the scandal, all the time. This blog is mostly about history and things relating to the French Revolution, for those who are interested in such things. I mentioned the Fr. Francis news simply because there is a cavalier attitude on the part of so many about priests leaving to get married. When a priest leaves to marry, it is painful, for him and for everybody. The Church can "fix" it, of course, being a merciful Mother, but it is something to pray about, not something to celebrate.

elena maria vidal said...

VERY true, alaughland!

healthily sanguine said...

What good is coming by discussing it? What glory do we give to God? Prayers!

elena maria vidal said...

Yes, it's time to move on. And just pray......