... it undermines trust among men and tears apart the fabric of social relationships - CCC 2486
Some months ago, a couple of friends and I met with someone who we had hithero thought of as both honourable and sensible, but who I now think of as -- to be frank -- a gullible, pompous, buffoon. And thinking he would be fair and be able to help us, we told our story, which was at odds with the stories he'd already heard, and he shook his head in disbelief. How could we expect him to believe what we were saying, that somebody appeared to be a Jekyll and Hyde character, someone who -- among other things -- was a devout Roman Catholic.
And at that I nearly exploded. Leaving aside the horrible irony of such a statement being made just moments after a reference he'd made to the Spanish Inquisition, I was insulted on behalf on the many honourable atheists, agnostics, and Protestants that I know -- and two of them were sitting with me at the time. And what's more, I had told our story while nervously turning my Rosary ring, my prayer book in my pocket.
Devout Roman Catholic, eh? What on earth does that mean? Look, I'm not qualified to judge, and I fall and fail all the time, but can a person who engages in acts that are intrinsically evil really be deemed devout?
Take calumny, for example. You know what calumny is? Allow me to quote the Catechism on this one, CCC 2477, if you're interested:
Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury. He becomes guilty:
- of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor;
- of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another's faults and failings to persons who did not know them;
- of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them.
The Catechism is clear and quite fascinating on this topic in general. Well worth a read, I think.