In your November 16th issue, Greg Erlandson wrote that the current sex abuse scandal is made worse because ‘heads haven’t rolled.’ That is, there should be much more punishment meted out for anyone even remotely involved in cases of sex abuse in the church, including not only the priests who were found guilty, but any other churchman involved with the perpetrator before or after his sin/crime should have been somehow punished by the church authorities, apparently without regard to their level of guilt.
What flashed through my mind was “the eighth commandment.” When I looked it up, the eighth commandment forbids “bearing false witness.” According to the Catholic Catechism, this commandment includes avoiding ‘calumny,’ or ‘destroying the reputation and honor of one’s neighbor.’ (2479, “Catechism of the Catholic Church.”)
In other words, we are to be very careful when imputing sin to another person. If we are too eager to relay our suspicions or even our convictions about another’s morality, we may commit sin ourselves in trying to force the presumed sinner to judgment.
So, Erlandson is recommending that more Catholics should be turning in presumed sinners, which is forbidden by the Catechism.