The Catechism in a Year (with Fr. Mike Schmitz) - Day 322: Respect for TruthEpisode Date: November 18, 2023
Charity dictates who we reveal the truth to. We learn today that the “right to the communication of truth is not unconditional.” Fr. Mike explains that this means we ought to examine what facts we reveal to others prudently. Fr. Mike highlights the role of mass media in disseminating the truth and the importance of guarding ourselves against gossip. Today’s readings are Catechism paragraphs 2488-2499. If you have found this podcast to be helpful in your faith life and would like to help us continue bringing this Catholic media to as many people as possible, please consider making an ongoing financial gift at ascensionpress.com/support. This episode has been found to be in conformity with the Catechism by the Institute on the Catechism, under the Subcommittee on the Catechism, USCCB. For the complete reading plan, visit ascensionpress.com/ciy Please note: The Catechism of the Catholic Church contains adult themes that may not be suitable for children - parental discretion is advised.
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Thank you and God bless. Hi, my name is Father Mike Schmitz and you're listening to the Catechism in a Year Podcast, where we encounter God's plan of sheer goodness for us, revealed in Scripture and passed down through the tradition of the Catholic faith. The Catechism in the Year is brought to you by Ascension. In 365 days, we'll read through the Catechism of the Catholic Church, discovering our identity and God's family as we journey together toward our Heavenly Home. This is day 322, we are reading paragraphs 2488-2499. As always, I'm using the Ascension Edition of the Catechism, which includes the foundations
of faith approach, but you can follow along with any recent version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. You can also download your own Catechism in a year reading plan by visiting ascensionpress.com slash C-I-Y. And you can click follow or subscribe on your podcast app for daily updates and daily notifications, because today is day 322. Again, reading paragraph 2488 to 2499. Yesterday, we talked about the offenses against truth. And today, we're looking at the respect for truth. In fact, the ways in today we're looking at the respect for truth. In fact, the ways in which we appropriate the truth and approach other people with the truth
is governed not only by the truth itself, but also by love and also by fraternal charity. So we'd mention this yesterday, but paragraph 2488 highlights the right to the communication of the truth is not unconditional. And so we're gonna look at some of those conditions, as well as looking at the sacrament of reconciliation because there is a seal of the truth is not unconditional. And so we're gonna look at some of those conditions, as well as looking at the sacrament of reconciliation, because there is a seal of the sacrament of reconciliation
where priests, we talked about this before, may not reveal what was ever spoken in confession, as well as we're looking at the use of social communications media. And so what is the right to communicate and what authority do civil authorities have, what responsibility do civil authorities have, what responsibility do civil authorities have when it comes to the communication of the truth in the media.
We're talking about those things today. So let's begin with a prayer, Father in heaven. We ask you to please, in the name of your Son Jesus Christ, send your Holy Spirit to be with us. To guide our lives and guide our days, guide our each moment, Lord God guide our speech in so many ways. We ask you to please set a guard over our lips that we will only speak the words,
that people need to hear, things that will really help them. Help us to be men and women who are not only filled with the truth, but walk in the truth, live the truth, and speak the truth. For you, Lord Jesus Christ, are the way and the life and the truth. And we make this prayer in your name, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Again, it's day 322. We're reading paragraphs 2488 to 2499. Respect for the truth. The right to the communication of the truth is not unconditional. Everyone must conform his life to the gospel precept of fraternal love. This requires us in concrete situations to judge whether or not it is appropriate to reveal the truth to someone who asks for it.
Charity and respect for the truth should dictate the response to every request for information or communication. The good and safety of others, respect for privacy, and the common good are sufficient reasons for being silent about what ought not be known or for making use of a discrete language. The duty to avoid scandal often commands strict discretion. No one is bound to reveal the truth to someone who does not have the right to know it. The secret of this sacrament of reconciliation is sacred and cannot be violated under any pretext.
The sacramental seal is inviolable, therefore it is a crime for a confessor in any way to betray a penitent by word or in any other manner or for any reason. Professional secrets, for example, those of political officeholders, soldiers, physicians and lawyers, or confidential information given under the seal of secrecy must be kept, say, in exceptional cases where keeping the secret is bound to cause very grave harm to the one who confided it, to the one who received it, or to a third party, and where the very grave harm can be avoided only by divulging the truth.
Even if not confided under the seal of secrecy, private information, prejudicial to another, is not to be divulged without a grave and proportionate reason. Everyone should observe an appropriate reserve concerning persons' private lives. Those in charge of communications should maintain a fair balance between the requirements of the common good and respect for individual rights. Interference by the media in the private lives of persons engaged in political or public activity is to be condemned to the extent that it infringes upon their privacy and freedom. The use of the social communications media.
Within modern society, the communications media play a major role in information, cultural promotion and formation. This role is increasing as a result of technological progress, the extent and diversity of the news transmitted and the influence exercised on public opinion. The information provided by the media is at the service of the common good. Society has a right to information based on truth, freedom, justice, and solidarity. The proper exercise of this right demands that the content of the communication be true, and within the limits set by justice and charity, complete.
Further, it should be communicated honestly and properly. This means that in the gathering and in the publication of news, the moral law and the legitimate rights and dignity of man should be upheld. It is necessary that all members of society meet the demands of justice and charity in this domain. They should help through the means of social communication in the formation and diffusion of sound public opinion. Solidarity is a consequence of genuine and right communication and the free circulation of ideas that further knowledge and respect for others. The means of social communication, especially the mass media,
can give rise to a certain passivity among users, making them less than vigilant consumers of what is said or shown. Users should practice moderation and discipline in their approach to the mass media. They will want to form enlightened and correct consciences the more easily to resist unwholesome influences. By the very nature of their profession, journalists have an obligation to serve the truth and not offend against charity in disseminating information.
They should strive to respect with equal care, the nature of the facts and the limits of critical judgment concerning individuals. They should not stoop to defamation. Civil authorities have particular responsibilities in this field because of the common good. It is for the Civil Authority to defend and safeguard a true and just freedom of information. By promulgating laws and overseeing their application, public authorities should ensure that public morality and social progress are not gravely endangered through misuse of the media.
Civil authorities should punish any violation of the rights of individuals to their reputation and privacy. They should give timely and reliable reports concerning the general good or respond to the well-founded concerns of the people. Nothing can justify recourse to disinformation from manipulating public opinion through the media. Interventions by public authority should avoid injuring the freedom of individuals or groups. Moral judgment must condemn the plague of totalitarian states, which systematically falsify the truth,
exercise political control of opinion through the media, manipulate defendants and witnesses at public trials, and imagine that they secure their tyranny by strangling and repressing everything they consider fought crimes. Right, there we have it, paragraph 2488 to 2499. Kind of a little recap of what we talked about yesterday when it came to these first paragraphs here, starting with paragraph 2488. The right to the communication of the truth is not unconditional. So we recognize that you don't always have to say what you think. You don't always have to say the truth. The right to communication of truth is not unconditional. There are some conditions here. What's one of the conditions? Everyone must conform his life to the gospel precept of fraternal love.
It goes on to say, so fraternal love, this is these precept, right, of actual loving our neighbor, loving our brothers and sisters. This requires us in concrete situations to judge whether or not it is appropriate to reveal the truth to someone who asks for it. Again, that last sentence of paragraph 2489, the next paragraph, it does say, no one is bounded to reveal the truth to someone who does not have the right to know it. We realize I don't have to say everything I think, I don't have to say everything that I even know to be true. No one has bound to reveal the truth to someone who does not have the right to know it. Can we kind of talk about that yesterday when we talked about the idea of what do you
do if you're hiding Jews in your basement and the Gestapo comes by, what do you say? Well no one has a right. No one has bound to reveal the truth to someone who doesn't have a right to know it. Now moving on from there, because we kind of talked about this yesterday, in paragraph 2490, it highlights the fact that there is the seal of the sacrament of reconciliation. And so the priest, the confessor, it is a crime for him in any way to betray the penitent by word or in any other manner or for any reason. Again, the priest may never betray the penitents, betray the person who has gone to confession
for any reason, for any reason. Again, this is a big deal. And we've talked about it before, and it is essential for the sake of the confidence that people have to have when they come before the Lord with their worst, that it stays here, right? It's laid at the foot of the cross, and it stays there. Jesus deals with it. Now, next 24-91, professional secrets, that they must be kept, except for, again, certain cases, where keeping the secret is bound to cause grave harm to the one who confided it to the one
who received it or to a third party, and where the very grave harm can be avoided only by divulging the truth. So keep in mind there are such a thing as secrets that need to be kept. Why? Out of respect for the dignity of others, or out of respect for the common good, or even just out of respect for the individuals That's a paragraph 2492 highlights that everyone should observe an appropriate reserve concerning persons private lives And so we talked about these yesterday too. We talked about a lot of things yesterday I think that's why it was so long it says interference by the media in the private lives of persons engaged in political or public activity
Is to be condemned to the extent that it infringes upon their privacy and freedom. Again, that should be within the requirements of common good and respect for individual rights. We have to look at these things and realize that just because someone is in the public eye doesn't mean that everything about their life ought to be made public. And this is where we have to examine ourselves once again, right? And say, okay, what's my thing in this regard when it comes to truth, when it comes to what ought to be known,
what doesn't need to be revealed, all those kinds of things, especially in terms of what we talked about yesterday, which is gossip, that information, do I need to know this? Because especially as we launch into paragraph 2493 to the end here, 2499, in social communications media, what's my thing? Is it like, no, those tabloids?
Is that my thing? Like, is it, you know, gossip magazines? Is it a gossip podcast? Is it even gossip news stations that seem to say, okay, if you're in the public eye, then we get to know everything about you. We, if you're a singer of songs, we want to know about all of your relationships and we want to know about who you're dating and who you broke up with and who all those kinds of things. Is that something that is good for us as human beings? It's just the question. I mean, the fact that we can even call it gossip journalism or gossip tabloids or gossip whatever the thing is,
highlights the fact that, oh, this is merely gossip. This is not something that I need to know. This is not something that anyone, other than the individual or the individuals who are involved need to know. Of course, that involves discernment because there are times where, oh gosh, this is very important for people to know this aspect about this person, right? Especially when we're putting them in places of authority. So if there are political figures and we want to know in some ways, okay, are they a person of character?
Are they a person of honor? Are they a person who can keep their promises in secret and in public? Those are helpful things, but we have to be discerning about this and recognize that it's not all bets are off just because someone is in the public eye. Does that make sense? Even with regard to news, I mean, news can dominate a person's life. We all know about, you know, the grandpa, the grandma, the family member who always has some news channel always going on in the background. Pergaff 2496 highlights a little bit of this. It says, the means of social communications, like, especially mass media, can give rise
to a certain passivity among users, making them less than vigilant consumers of what is said or shown. Goes on to say, users should practice moderation and discipline and their approach to the mass media. And this is again really good if I always have the podcast playing on the background, or if I'm that person who always has whatever news channel playing on the background. I should practice moderation and discipline. It goes on to say, they will want to form enlightened and corrective consciences the more easily
to resist unwholesome influences because this has happened This is part of our history in fact paragraph 2499 highlights this it says moral judgment must condemn the plague for totalitarian states Which systematically falsify the truth exercise political control of opinion through the media Manipulate defendants and witnesses of public trial and imagine that they secure their tyranny by strangling and repressing everything they consider thought crimes. Again, this is a history of humanity. As long as there has been journalism, as long as there's been this social communications media, this has been a temptation for many people. Now, not everyone does this, and also not, we have to realize it, and we all know this,
not everyone accused of doing this is doing this. But we have to realize that it can happen, it has happened, and it is happening. We have to just realize it basically trying to be wise as we walk through this world and we realize that just because someone says something does not make it true, in fact, the temptation, again, who's said before, the temptation that people who have power or who want power, that they face is, how can I get people to stand my side? How can I manipulate people through dissemination of information or dissemination of disinformation
or misinformation? That can be a real thing. That last line though is so important for us. It says, imagine they secure their tyranny by strangling and repressing everything they consider thought crimes. And that's, I think of where it comes down to. We recognize that there are thoughts that we don't like. There are thoughts we think are not true.
There are statements that we don't like. There are philosophies that we don't like. There are philosophies that we believe are not true. We know the way forward is not to simply hide them away or make them illegal to say out loud. We know that the best way to arrive at the truth is to bring whatever statement it is to the light. The best way to arrive at the truth is to take, okay, this is a philosophy. Let's examine it,
rather than try to hide it away, we know that that's a dangerous road to go down where we start calling certain things thought crimes. Because that's the road of the totalitarian. That's the road of the tyrant. And we want to be, we're made to be, a free people. And free people have to risk being wrong. We have to risk offending people, even risk disturbing people when we're telling the truth, or even our pursuit of the truth. That's what's going to happen in a world where we're all searching for the truth.
But some people want power more than truth. And so we have to be unguarded against that. Not only in public life, not only in our society, but also in our relationships and also in ourselves. When I find myself clinging more to power than to truth, that I need to do some self-evaluation and some repentance. And so all these things, again, once again, all of these things, bring us back to this place where it reminds us, okay, I'm convicted, Lord. Now, it helped me to not only grasp the truth, the apprehended truth, to know the truth, but also to live the truth, to live the truth that I know and to walk in freedom,
and help my brothers and sisters to walk in truth and in freedom as well. And that's an act of grace. And so I'm praying for you. Please pray for me. My name is Father Mike. I cannot wait to see you tomorrow. God bless.