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“Ask a Priest: Is It a Serious Sin to Say That Someone Is Gay?”
Q: I told my parents that I thought one of my distant cousins might be gay. I have no evidence that is even true. It came from my judgmental and suspicious thoughts. I have no right to assume this. Am I in mortal sin? – D.
Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC
A: You are asking about what could be one of the most underestimated injustices of our day.
The Catechism in No. 2477 says:
“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.”
What you describe sounds could be either rash judgment, detraction or calumny, each of which can be objectively gravely sinful.
The key here is not jumping to conclusions and vocalizing them, least of all to people for whom it is none of their business.
It might be good to clarify things with your parents, and to get to confession.
You rarely will go wrong assuming the best and speaking well of others.
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In the question here, I took note of the words “I TOLD my parents that I THOUGHT a distant cousin is gay.’
. . . If one was ‘musing’ (pondering) a distant cousin’s actions (and the relationship is distant) in a general conversation in privacy of one’s home with parents… and the THOUGHT expressed out loud goes no further than those 4 walls, I ‘think’ (correct me Father if I am wrong) but I think ‘just a thought expressed once and casually’ might be venial rather than grave sin. (one act of contrition and the Holy Mass and penitential asking with others for forgiveness, and I think this can be put behind one)
Might be good to then ponder why the thought was expressed and in what context. Was it said to put down the person, OR to express ‘concern’ of the lifestyle of said person. We should be concerned if we suspect others are living contrary to God’s way. Was the ‘thought’ spoken with ANGER because of hate of SIN. HECK, our Lord got ANGRY at SIN many times. He called those pharisees a ‘brood of vipers’ . . . HE knew their HEART. True we humans can not know WHY people act as they do… but BY THE GRACE OF FAITH we can know WRONG ACTIONs and it makes us angry. Father is correct, if not sure what a person’s lifestyle is about… just be concerned with handling one’s own good life. If one suspects someone is living a sinful
lifestyle… It is permissible TO AVOID SOCIALIZING… lest we be led to the temptation to anger. Believers and Unbelievers have ‘o’ in common, SO AVOID. Do not speak of the sins of another (and this is THE GRACE
of our HOLY PRIESTHOOD, who hears lots of stuff in the confessional, and then FORGETS IT ALL… which was made easier when the penitent was behind a screen, I believe) BE KIND, go to confession behind a screen. IT ISN’T HATE to avoid those who CHOOSE TO LIVE contrary TO GOD’S WAY (more than likely, they want it that way, as they believe the faithful are so wrong)