Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Today's Special Word

Calumny is any form of ruse or fraud used to deceive another, particularly in judicial proceedings. It means the unjust damaging of the good name of another by putting a crime or fault of which he is not guilty upon him. The sin, thus is committed in a general sense, mortal. Objectively, a calumny is a mortal sin when it is calculated to do serious harm to the person wrongly accused. Just as in the instance of wrongful damage to a person or estate, so the calumniator is bound to adequate payment for the injury perpetrated by the blackening of another's good name. He is obliged to: (1) to retract his false statements, and that even though his own payments may necessarily as a consequence suffer. (2) He must also make good whatever other losses have been sustained by the innocent party as a result of his utterances, provided these same have been in some measure foreseen by him.

(Catholic Encyclopedia)

2 comments:

Fr. Brian Stanley said...

LOLC,

I am SO glad that you have presented this term for the edification of your readership, not only because it warms the cockles of my "moral theology teacher" heart (surely, a small, dense, cold piece of obsidian, but a heart nonetheless), but because it is a moral offense that I see played out in this parish and in the community.

As you well know, I have been the victim of calumny many times throughout these past ten years as pastor, accused of all sorts of high crimes and misdemeanors by now-former-parishioners. It is a very destructive sin, as it plays on the very real human condition that everyone eventually recognizes: the limitation of our human knowledge. Coming up against that limitation, one encounters doubt. Calumny sows falsehood about another, such that the subject of the calumny has doubts raised about him that, even though refuted time and again, the doubts persist in the minds of those not acquainted with the refutation.

One of the calumnies spread about me several years ago was that I intended to close our Catholic grade school. The calumny was specific, that I was going to close the school within the next year. That was five years ago, and our school is still open, and it is my intention to keep it open. But doubts persist in the (small) minds of certain individuals, and so I continue to refute. It is odd that the continued operation of the school is not sufficient proof. And the calumniator knows this, and continues to sow the falsehood.

We must pray for those who spread lies, who participate in calumny. Their conversions are important to the common good, which is undermined by their falsehoods, and spreads doubt and inhibits the trust that every community needs.

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