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Life in Christ

595

2479

Detraction and calumny destroy the

reputation and honor of

one’s neighbor.

Honor is the social witness given to human dignity,

and everyone enjoys a natural right to the honor of his name and

reputation and to respect. Thus, detraction and calumny offend

against the virtues of justice and charity.

2480

Every word or attitude is forbidden which by

flattery,

adulation, or complaisance

encourages and confirms another in mali­

cious acts and perverse conduct. Adulation is a grave fault if it

makes one an accomplice in another’s vices or grave sins. Neither

the desire to be of service nor friendship justifies duplicitous

speech. Adulation is a venial sin when it only seeks to be agreeable,

to avoid evil, to meet a need, or to obtain legitimate advantages.

2481

Boasting

or bragging is an offense against truth. So is

irony

aimed at disparaging someone by maliciously caricaturing some

aspect of his behavior.

2482

“A

lie

consists in speaking a falsehood with the intention

of deceiving.”

281

The Lord denounces lying as the work of the

devil: “You are of your father the devil, . . . there is no truth in him.

When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar

and the father of lies.”

282

2483

Lying is the most direct offense against the truth. To lie is

to speak or act against the truth in order to lead someone into error.

By injuring man’s relation to truth and to his neighbor, a lie offends

against the fundamental relation of man and of his word to the

Lord.

2484

The

gravity of a lie

is measured against the nature of the truth

it deforms, the circumstances, the intentions of the one who lies, and

the harm suffered by its victims. If a lie in itself only constitutes a

venial sin, it becomes mortal when it does grave injury to the virtues

of justice and charity.

2485

By its very nature, lying is to be condemned. It is a profa­

nation of speech, whereas the purpose of speech is to communicate

known truth to others. The deliberate intention of leading a neigh­

bor into error by saying things contrary to the truth constitutes a

failure in justice and charity. The culpability is greater when the

intention of deceiving entails the risk of deadly consequences for

those who are led astray.

281 St. Augustine,

De mendacio

4, 5: PL 40, 491.

282

Jn

8:44.

1753

392

1750

1756