SIX VOLUMES IN ONE
BY THE DISTINGUISHED EXPONENTS OF CATHOLICISM
REV. HENRY DODRIDGE, D. D.
REV. HENRY EDWARD MANNING, D. D.
REV. F. LEWIS, of Granada
REV. STEPHEN KEENAN
REV. BERNARD VAUGHAN, S. J.
REV. THOMAS N. BURKE, O. P.
THE EIGHTH COMMANDMENT.
A. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
Q. What is forbidden by this precept ?
A. All injustices against others by words.
Q. Which are the principal matters to be considered on this occasion?
A. All false proceedings by words; both in open court, and public or private conversation, viz.: Of judges, witnesses, informers, pleaders, and by secrecy, promises, liars; as also equivocation, mental reservation, hypocrisy, flattery, whispering, rash judgment, detraction, etc.
Q. What is a judge?
A. He who is appointed, by the supreme power, to administer justice according to law.
Q. Which are the qualifications of a judge?
A. Chiefly these three, authority, justice, and knowledge; in defect whereof, his sentence is either null, unjust, or rash.
Q. How upon defect of authority ?
A. When he acts without commission. When persons are judged, who belong not to his jurisdiction. When he judges matters, where persons are exempted. When he passes sentence Upon hidden matters, viz.: Spiritual matters^ in open court.
Q. How upon defect of justice?
A. When he omits to do justice, out of fear of offending some great person. When he is drawn away by gifts and bribes. When he offends in passing sentence, either out of particular affection, or hatred against the person.
Q. How upon a defect of .knowledge and prudence?
A. When he is ignorant of the law. When he goes upon conjectures and slight proofs. When he observes not the methods of the law, as to witnesses, and by attending to their character, etc.
Q. In what things is the judge to be directed, in order to act with knowledge and prudence ?
A. He is not to follow his own private opinion, but proceed according to the proofs, which appear in court. He is not to pardon crimes, without the license of the supreme power, unless the crimes be contained in his commission: there must likewise be a just cause for the pardon, and it is never to be granted until justice is done to the injured party, both as to body, goods or reputation.
Q. Is a judge obliged to restitution, when he passes sentence without authority, justice, or knowledge?
A. He is to make good the losses the innocent person sustains by such a sentence.
Q. What obligation is there of informing against a criminal ?
A. When a crime manifestly tends towards the subversion of the public good, all public officers, in the first place, are obliged to inform, and even all other private persons, when the public is in danger. Some divines extend the obligation to become an informer in the court of judicature: others think a private information satisfies the obligation, without being a prosecutor.
Q. What are the obligations of a witness?
A. First, he is obliged to appear and give in his testimony, when he is called, according to law, by a lawful superior: secondly, when he is called in the aforesaid manner, and refuses to appear, he sins mortally, and is answerable for the damages another suffers, for want of his evidence; thirdly, if the accused has nothing alleged against him, but his crime is a secret, and causes as yet no infamy, a witness, who can speak plain to the fact, is not obliged to appear; fourthly, if a person can free an innocent from death or infamy, by appearing as a witness, he is obliged in conscience to give his testimony, though not required by the law; otherwise, no one, unless commanded, is obliged to become witness against another; fifthly, to take money, to become a witness, is a mortal sin, unless it be what is allowed for the expenses of his journey; lastly, a false witness is obliged to restore what damage is occasioned by his evidence.
Q. What is the obligation of a counsellor, or pleader at the bar ?
A If he undertakes a cause which he knows to be unjust, he sins, and is obliged to restitution. If he undertakes it out of ignorance, he is culpable according to the degree of his ignorance. If he is doubtful of the justice of the cause, he may undertake it, but is obliged to acquaint his client with his doubts; and he must desist, as soon as he finds the cause is unjust. He may take a fee, proportionably to the cause, labor, and time; but is not to exact what is unreasonable, but be guided in his demands by the laws and customs of the country. He is obliged in charity to undertake the cause of the poor innocent parties, otherwise he sins mortally. He sins, if he contracts with his client to have the half, third, or fourth part of what is contended for; because this administers occasion of using knavery, by so large a compensation.
Q. What is a lawyer, etc., obliged to, who, for want of skill, draws a will, whereby the right heir is deprived of his inheritance he was designed to enjoy ?
A. He sins, and is obliged to make good the loss. He is also guilty in the same manner, who conceals and produces not a writing which is requisite to do justice to another.
Q. What is a secret?
A. It is a thing private from the world.
Q. How many secrets are there ?
A. Some are strictly so, and only known to a man's self; others in a larger sense, only known to few. Again, some are secrets of their own nature, as thoughts; others may be known by others, as all outward actions.
Q. By how many ways are secrets committed to others ?
A. Chiefly three ways, viz.: In sacramental confession; secondly, by an occurrence whereby a person, out of confession, becomes acquainted with a thing, which, if further published, may become detrimental to his neighbor; thirdly, when a thing is communicated to another, with a promise of not publishing it, either in express words, or tacitly, by asking advice, and with such circumstances that the person to whom it is revealed, may easily perceive he is under an obligation not to publish it any further.
Q. In what cases is it lawful to reveal or not reveal secrets ?
A. The secrets of sacramental confession are to not be revealed, under a most grievous sin, unless the penitent allow of it. Yet if a person out of confession says, I tell you this is as under confession, he is obliged to conceal it, by the law of nature, though not under the seal of confession. When a person knows, by any way, the secret sin of another, if he reveals it, so that the person is damaged, either in his goods, body, or reputation, he sins grievously; and Sylvius says, both against charity and justice, so as to be obliged to restitution. When a person promises to keep a secret, he sins grievously if he reveals it even to a superior, unless it is a trivial matter, and then it is only a venial sin. Yet if a secret is committed to a person, which, of its own nature, tends to the public loss, or any great private detriment to another, if he cannot hinder it by fraternal correction, it is lawful, and he is obliged to reveal it to proper persons, and according to law.
Q. Is it allowed to open other's letters, or pry into secret writings ?
A. Not without express or presumptive leave, unless a parent or tutor take that liberty; much less is it lawful to have a hand in defamatory libels. «
Q. What is a lie?
A. It is speaking contrary to what one believes with a design to deceive.
Q. Is it in no case lawful to lie ?
A. No, it is ill in itself, so never lawful. Secondly, it is unlawful, because veracity is necessary to the preservation of human society. Thirdly, it is absolutely forbid by God. " Thou shalt not lie, neither shall any man deceive his neighbor." Lev. xix. n. " Better a thief, than the continual custom of a lying man; but both shall inherit perdition." Eccl. xx. 27. " Lying lips are abominable to our Lord." Prov. xii. 22. u Lie not one to another," Col. iii. 9, says St. Paul. The terrible examples of Ananias and Saphira, and of Giezi, should terrify liars. Acts v. 41 Their part shall be in the lake burning with fire and brimstone." 4 Reg. v. Apoc. xxi. 8. As theirs must be, who slander, detract, belie, or deride the Church of God, her faith, worship, sacraments, ministers, etc., which, alas! is too commonly done, to the ruin of many souls. Q. How many sorts of lies are there ?
A. Chiefly three, viz.: Officious, jocose, and pernicious. The first hurts nobody: the second is to divert others : the third is with damage to others. The two first are only venial sins. The third is mortal, when the damage is considerable. Lies are called material lies, when a person says what is false in itself, but judged true by the speaker; otherwise, it is a real and formal lie.
Q. What opinion have you of equivocations, mental reservations, dissimulation, hypocrisy, and flattery?
A. They are also lies, either in words or in fact.
Q. How do you understand them to be unlawful ?
A. Equivocation is when words may have r double sense or meaning. If both are usual, it is no lie; if one is extraordinary and unusual, it is a lie. Mental reservation is when a person keeps in his mind a sense, wherein the words are true, but not in the sense as they are usually understood, and as those he spoke to understand them. Some divines allow of mental reservations, when the words are only equivocal, and so as they may be true in either sense, according to common construction, as are all metaphors; as also in particular cases; where life, or great damage and injustice would follow; (But some hold that to be very loose doctrine.) though not in common use and conversation. Dissimulation is when outward actions are contrary to a man's mind and opinion, which is a lie in fact. Hypocrisy is a dissimulation of sanctity, and a lie in fact. Flattery is to attribute to another some perfection which he has not, or to praise a person who deserves no praise.
Q. What is whispering?
A. It is speaking evil to some by way of secrecy, to break friendship between others, the worst way of slandering, because such oblige all they speak to, not to give them up for authors, whereby the slandered, for want of knowing what is ill spoke of them, have no possibility of clearing themselves, or detecting the author. " The whisperer and the double tongued is accursed, for he has troubled many that were at peace." Eccl. xxviii. 15. Whisperers are placed among those whom God gives over to a reprobate sense, and are worthy of death; and not only they who do them, but they also who consent to the doers, Rom i. 28, 29, etc., which make the hearers equally guilty, if they do not discourage such, much more those who are inquisitive to hear.
Q. What is rash judgment?
A. It is to judge ill of a person upon light or insufficient grounds, proceeding from mere jealousies, surmises, or hear-says; which our Saviour Christ forbids: "Judge not," says he, "that you may not be judged." Matt. vii. 1. Again, "as you will that men do to you, do you also to them in like manner." Luke vi. 31. Not judging evil of any, as you would no one should judge of you without sufficient grounds. Less grounds may suffice to suspect than judge, and less to doubt than to suspect, or judge positively. But passion, self-interest, malice, hatred, or some evil affection, from which such usually proceed, make things appear quite otherwise than they really are. Prudence, joined with charity, should move us to interpret doubtful things to the best, or at least to suspend our judgment, even when there appears some reason to move otherwise our assent. We may notwithstanding be so circumspect with whom we converse or have business with, as that they shall not deceive us, though they should prove knaves: which caution may be used without rash judgment, suspecting, or doubting of the honesty of our neighbor.
Q. What is detraction?
A. It is a secret straining of another's good name, which may be done directly or indirectly. They do it directly, first, who accuse any of a false crime: secondly, who make it worse than
really it is: thirdly, who discover a secret crime; fourthly, who put an ill construction upon a good action or intention. They do it indirectly, who deny a person's good qualities: secondly, who lessen them: thirdly, who conceal them, when a person wants defence: fourthly, who coldly commends a person, etc., which are sins either from malice, passion, envy, ill-will, or for want of charity; and always contrary to the law of God and nature. "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." Matt. xxii. 39. " Brethren," says St. James, " detract not one another." James iv. 11. "Refrain your tongue from detraction," says the wise man. Sap. i. 11.
Q. What is a promise, and why ought it to be kept?
A. It is a verbal engagement to another, to do or not to do a thing; and, when not complied with, it is a lie in fact, and unlawful on the same account.
Q. What conditions are required, to make a promise valid or binding, and not binding?
A. The thing promised must be possible and lawful, and a person must have an inward intention of fulfilling it, otherwise he is not obliged before God, yet he is guilty of a lie. Again, it must be made with deliberation. To break a promise in a trifle, is only a venial sin, yet it lessens a man's character. Lastly, if any thing intervenes, before the promise is performed, that would have hindered it, it is a condition making it void; as, for example, to marry one whom he thought chaste, but she fornicates.
Q. What is commanded by this commandment ?
A. To speak and witness the truth in all things. "Speak the truth every one to his neighbors." Zach. viii. 16.