Life in Christ
Detraction and calumny destroy the
reputation and honor of
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.
Every word or attitude is forbidden which by
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.
or bragging is an offense against truth. So is
aimed at disparaging someone by maliciously caricaturing some
aspect of his behavior.
consists in speaking a falsehood with the intention
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.”
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
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.
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,
4, 5: PL 40, 491.