“Ask a Priest: What If a Pal Has a Foul Mouth?”

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Q: Father, I have a close friend that uses foul language and cusses a lot. When I try to get him to stop, he says he is not taking the Lord’s name in vain, so it is not sinful. How can I address this with him? -R.L.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: It is laudable that you are trying to help your friend clean up his vocabulary.

Some habits are deeply ingrained in people. Their upbringing can leave deep marks on them, and it isn’t easy to overcome certain habits.

Rather than push the issue with your friend, maybe you could limit yourself to asking him, in an opportune moment, to refrain from using certain words in the presence of, say, women or children.

When he does use salty language, try to stay serene, and speak more softly or slowly. Keep your own language clean. And always look for ways to elevate the conversation. Talking about spiritual things occasionally will give him pause. That he won’t use the Lord’s name in vain is a good sign that he has a moral sense about him. You might try to cultivate that sense.

In the meantime try praying for him. And keep offering your own good example, especially your elevated conversation and patience. I hope this helps. God bless.

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