Click here to advertise on

Thou Shalt Not Bear Embarrassing Witness Against Monsignor

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jan 05, 2004

From the Full Disclosure of What We Have Unilaterally Determined You Need to Know Department comes the following shell game from Syracuse:

Bishop James Moynihan said Sunday he released a report on the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse's history of clergy sexual abuse in an effort to rebuild trust. But he remains firm in his refusal to reveal the names of priests accused of -- or found guilty of -- sexually abusing minors. "You'll never have names," he said...

Moynihan cited the Eighth Commandment -- "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor" -- to explain his refusal to reveal names. The moral code that commonly refers to lying also forbids revealing a person's hidden faults or making a false statement that hurts a person's reputation, he said.

"Please God, I'm not going to be guilty of either of those sins," he said.

First, there's a morally important difference between revealing the name of an accused man and a guilty man. Second, it is sinful to reveal the fault of another without an objectively valid reason (Catechism 2477); if protection of the vulnerable from recidivist sex abusers isn't such a reason, nothing is. Third, a priest's commitment to chastity is a public and not a private undertaking, made in full view of the community; crimes against innocent persons -- committed in contempt of his solemn oaths and reckoned as felonious acts even under civil law -- hardly count as "hidden faults."

So this is (episcopally rebuilt) trust. If your 15-year-old is groped in the sacristy, are you going to ring up the chancery or the DA's office?

An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:

Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach seven million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!

Progress toward our July expenses ($33,425 to go):
$35,000.00 $1,574.95
96% 4%
Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 1 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: shrink - Jan. 05, 2004 9:46 PM ET USA

    Can a man who thinks that the 8th commandment = "Thou Shalt Not Bear Embarrassing Witness Against Monsignor", be competent to teach basic catechism? Is Bishop Moynihan certified to teach the catechism? Does Bishop Moynihan certify others to teach the catechism? Does Bishop Moynihan write catechisms? Does he publish a catechism? Has he given an imprimatur or nihil obstat to a catechism? Hmmm... I suppose we can assume he is a certified bishop!

Subscribe for free
Shop Amazon
Click here to advertise on

Recent Catholic Commentary

Making Moral Progress? July 3
Vatican statement clarifies duties of Catholic faithful after Obergefell decision July 2
Political battles vs. sacrificial service: The Brooks paradox revisited July 2
A Baptist leader with a message the Synod of Bishops should hear June 30
'Helpful' advice for social conservatives: ignore causes, deal with effects June 30

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Pope approves process for holding bishops accountable in abuse cases CWN - June 10
Pope Francis’ 2nd encyclical released (includes link to full text) CWN - June 18
US Supreme Court rules all states must recognize same-sex marriage CWN - June 26
Archbishop Nienstedt, auxiliary bishop resign CWN - June 15