“Ask a Priest: Should I Speak Up About a Friend’s Immodest Posts on Facebook?”

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Q: I had a question regarding fraternal correction and how it should be done. A friend of mine has immodest pictures on her Facebook. It is not somewhere where most people would see them, but I am wondering if I am obliged to do anything about it and if so, what? Any advice you can give is welcome. I am a guy, by the way. – L.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: It is good that you have concern about your friend, especially in an area where people might have blind spots in their discretion.

The short suggestion is that you could bring this to her attention, but to do it with great charity and prudence.

For starters, it is good to assume that she has a lot of good will. The young woman simply might not understand how the photos could be perceived.

It is understandable that she might be influenced by the images she sees in ads and TV and movies, etc. She might think this is how to look “terrific,” though she might not understand the impression she is making on others, especially men.

Then again, you might ask whether these photos were meant for a very private audience – such as for a few of her women friends who might be less offended by the pictures.

Perhaps you might consider a few steps.

First, take this to prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit for the guidance to say the right thing at the right moment. Ask the Spirit to enlighten your friend, too. You might offer up a Mass or a rosary for this intention.

Second, if and when you decide to say something, mention to her first the things you admire about her: her charity, her joy, her loyalty, etc. If she senses your brotherly love for her, it might make for an ambience in which it is it easier to raise the issue of the photos.

Whatever you do, do it from the perspective of charity. You want to help your friend. And sometimes loves means we are willing to risk saying things that might be hard to hear.

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