“Ask a Priest: What If Someone Believes False Rumors About Me?”

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Q: A friend at work has believed rumors told by another friend due to jealousy, and now she has stopped talking to me. I have tried to reach out to her and ask her to talk to me and tell the truth as to what happened, but she doesn’t respond. As a Catholic, we are called to reach out to those who hurt you? What can I do to show her that I am innocent? I pray for her daily that God will show her the truth. Is there anything else I can do? I don’t want to be mean and end the friendship without knowing what exactly happened and why she reacted coldly toward me. – V.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: You are feeling the bite of calumny. It isn’t easy when people spread false stories about us. It is even harder when friends believe those false stories.

One consolation: We can remember that Jesus went through the same thing for us.

So the first advice might be to offer up this cross quietly. Our Lord knows the truth of things. You can offer up this cross of being maligned. Offer it up for your own sins and for the conversion of others. If you aren’t familiar with what “offering it up” means, you might want to watch the conference from our retreat guide entitled “A Mother’s Tears.”

It helps, too, to remember all the times when you did things from the past and never got caught. Or times when Our Lord forgave you for things from the past. Now, by showing patience and humility, you can offer something back to God.

As for your friend, there is no need to end the friendship, at least on your side. Assume that she is being sincere for the moment and trying to process what she believes to be true. By your ongoing charity with her, you might win back her confidence. And perhaps someday she will be open to hearing the real truth about what really happened in the past.

Until then, keep praying for her. Even if the friendship is never fully restored, at least you will have had the chance to grow in humility — and to understand better some of the humiliation that Jesus was willing to undergo for love of us.

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