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Full Version: Detraction and Backbiting
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I just listened to an online homily, in which the priest, quoting Saint Thomas Aquinas, taught that detraction, is the third worst mortal sin one can commit against one's neighbour. I just want to know, what determines whether or detraction is mortally or venially sinful? Or is detraction always sinful? Also, what about exaggerating bad actions performed by others? What determines whether or not it is mortally or venial sinful? Are these kinds of mortal sins as obvious as most other mortal sins, or are these more subtle?
Detraction is mortal when, with all the other ordinary conditions met, you are 1) sharing a hidden sin 2) with the primary intention of hurting their reputation. It's a malicious act. If you're sharing a public and well known event, it's not detraction because it's in the public. If you warn your close friend about an unrepentant thief so they don't lose any of their belongings, it's not detraction because you aren't sharing the information to perform character assassination. If, however, you know something a particular person did and you tell someone else, "-insert name here- has a horrible porn addiction. No wonder he's such a creep when he's around you," then you're telling them for no other reason than to make that person look bad.

In other words, you must be doing it in order to knock the person down a few pegs.