Is calumny a grievous sin? When the occasion is important, and the slander is deliberately uttered, with evil intention, when one’s neighbor is thereby grievously injured, and his good name damaged, every one may see how grievous and detestable, in such a case, this sin is.
Is it sinful to disclose the faults of our neighbor? To make public the faults and sins of our neighbor uselessly, merely for the entertainment of idle persons, is always sinful. But if, after trying in vain to correct his faults and sins by brotherly admonition, we make them known to his parents or superiors, for his punishment and amendment, so far from being a sin, it is rather a good work and a duty of Christian charity.
Is it a sin also to listen willingly to calumny? Yes; for thereby we furnish the calumniator an occasion for sin and give him encouragement. For which reason St. Bernard says: “Whether to calumniate be a greater sin than to listen to the calumniator I will not lightly decide.”
What ought to restrain us from calumny? The thought, 1, of the enormity of this sin; 2, of the number of sins occasioned thereby of which the calumniator, as the occasion of them, becomes partaker; 3, of the difficulty of correcting the harm done, since we cannot know the full extent of the injury, nor stop the tongues of people. Finally, we must think on the eternal punishment which follows this sin. The holy Fathers say that of young persons who are condemned the greater part is for impurity, but of the old, for calumny.