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"904. Would it be a lie to say what is untrue to a person who has no right whatever to the information sought?"

Mental reservations

3. If it is never lawful to tell a lie, if the lie of necessity cannot be allowed, what means have we of safeguarding a secret ?

Catholic theologians answer this question by propounding their doctrine of mental reservation. Mental reservations are either strictly or widely so called. The former is the restriction of one's meaning in making an assertion to the proposition as modified by some addition made to it within the mind of the speaker. As if on being asked "Are you going to town ?" one were to answer "Yes," meaning "in imagination." In wide mental reservations the words used are capable of being understood in different senses, either because they are ambiguous in themselves, or because they have a special sense derived from the circumstances of time, place, of person in which they are spoken. Thus, when a servant says that her master is not in, the words may mean either that he is absent, or that he does not wish to see the visitor. The servant's real meaning is restricted to one of these senses. In the same way a defendant on his trial in an English court of justice pleads not guilty i.e., until the charge be proved. A lawyer or a doctor questioned about professional secrets replies, "Idon't know " i.e., I have no knowledge which I can communicate.

Although strict mental reservations are lies, and therefore sinful, yet wide mental reservations are in common use; they are necessary, and they are not lies. They are necessary because justice and charity require that secrets should be kept, and frequently there is no other way of keeping them. They are not lies because, as we saw above, words take their meaning not only from their grammatical signification, but from the circumstances in which they are used. When a priest is asked about a sin which a penitent has confessed to him, and he answers, "I never heard of it," he speaks as a man, not as a confessor who holds the place of God in the tribunal of Penance. All are aware that he is a priest, and to all his words mean ,"I never heard of it outside of the confessional." He never speaks of what he has heard inside the confessional, and nothing can, or should, be gathered about what he has heard there from the words which he uses. Although these wide mental reservations are not lies, yet they must not be employed without just cause, for the good of society requires that we should speak our mind with frankness and sincerity in the sense in which we are understood by our hearers, unless there be a good reason for permitting their self-deception when they take our words in a sense that we do not mean.

Truth requires not only that we should say nothing that we know to be false, but also that we should weigh our statements and not make rash and unconsidered assertions. There are some people whose talk runs babbling along like a stream in a fresh, and with as little meaning. A man with a love for truth will be more sparing of his words, and will weigh them before giving them currency.

--A MANUAL OF MORAL THEOLOGY, REV. THOMAS SLATER, SJ. VOL I. FIFTH AND REVISED EDITION

1 posted on 04/29/2011 11:10:31 PM PDT by GonzoII
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2 posted on 04/29/2011 11:15:06 PM PDT by GonzoII (Quia tu es, Deus, fortitudo mea...Quare tristis es anima mea?)
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To: All

The Radio Replies Series: Volume One

The Radio Replies Series: Volume Two

Chapter One: God

Radio Replies Volume Two: Proof of God's Existence
Radio Replies Volume Two: God's Nature
Radio Replies Volume Two: Supreme Control Over All Things and the Problem of Suffering and Evil

Chapter Two: Man

Radio Replies Volume Two: Destiny of Man/Death
Radio Replies Volume Two: Immortality of Man's Soul & Pre-existence Denied
Radio Replies Volume Two: The Human Free Will
Radio Replies Volume Two: Determinism Absurd

Chapter Three: Religion

Radio Replies Volume Two: Necessity of Religion
Radio Replies Volume Two: Salvation of the Soul
Radio Replies Volume Two: Voice of Science
Radio Replies Volume Two: Religious Racketeers
Radio Replies Volume Two: Divine Revelation

Radio Replies Volume Two: Revealed Mysteries
Radio Replies Volume Two: Existence of Miracles

Chapter Four: The Religion of the Bible

Radio Replies Volume Two: Gospels Historical
Radio Replies Volume Two: Missing Books of the Bible
Radio Replies Volume Two: The Bible Inspired
Radio Replies Volume Two: Biblical Account of Creation
Radio Replies Volume Two: New Testament Problems

Radio Replies Volume Two: Supposed Contradictions in Sacred Scripture

Chapter Five: The Christian Faith

Radio Replies Volume Two: Source of Christian Teaching
Radio Replies Volume Two: Jewish Rejecton of Christ
Radio Replies Volume Two: Christianity a New Religion
Radio Replies Volume Two: Rational Foundation for Belief
Radio Replies Volume Two: Causes of Unbelief

Chapter Six: A Definite Christian Faith

Radio Replies Volume Two: Divisions Amongst Christians
Radio Replies Volume Two: Schisms Unjustified
Radio Replies Volume Two: Facing the Problem
Radio Replies Volume Two: Wrong Approach
Radio Replies Volume Two: Is One Religion as Good as Another?

Radio Replies Volume Two: Obligation of Inquiry
Radio Replies Volume Two: Charity and Tolerance

Chapter Seven: The Protestant Reformation

Radio Replies Volume Two: Meaning of "Protestant"
Radio Replies Volume Two: Causes of the Reformation
Radio Replies Volume Two: Catholic Reaction
Radio Replies Volume Two: Reformers Mistaken
Radio Replies Volume Two: The Idealization of Protestantism
Radio Replies Volume Two: The Catholic Estimate

Chapter Eight: The Truth of Catholicism

Radio Replies Volume Two: Meaning of the Word "Church"
Radio Replies Volume Two: Origin of the Church
Radio Replies Volume Two: The Catholic Claim
Radio Replies Volume Two: The Roman Hierarchy
Radio Replies Volume Two: The Pope

Radio Replies Volume Two: The Petrine Text
Radio Replies Volume Two: St. Peter's Supremacy
Radio Replies Volume Two: St. Peter in Rome
Radio Replies Volume Two: Temporal Power
Radio Replies Volume Two: Infallibility

Radio Replies Volume Two: Unity of the Church
Radio Replies Volume Two: Holiness of the Church
Radio Replies Volume Two: Catholicity of the Church
Radio Replies Volume Two: Apostolicity of the Church
Radio Replies Volume Two: Indefectibility of the Church
Radio Replies Volume Two: Obligation to be a Catholic

Chapter Nine: The Church and the Bible

Radio Replies Volume Two: Catholic Attitude Towards the Bible
Radio Replies Volume Two: Is Bible Reading Forbidden to Catholics?
Radio Replies Volume Two: Protestant Bibles
Radio Replies Volume Two: Catholic Douay Version
Radio Replies Volume Two: Principle of Private Interpretation

Radio Replies Volume Two: Need of Tradition
Radio Replies Volume Two: The Teaching Authority of the Catholic Church

Chapter Ten: The Dogmas of the Church

Radio Replies Volume Two: Revolt Against Dogma
Radio Replies Volume Two: Value of a Creed
Radio Replies Volume Two: The Divine Gift of Faith
Radio Replies Volume Two: Faith and Reason
Radio Replies Volume Two: The "Dark Ages"

Radio Replies Volume Two: The Claims of Science
Radio Replies Volume Two: The Holy Trinity
Radio Replies Volume Two: Creation and Evolution
Radio Replies Volume Two: Angels
Radio Replies Volume Two: Devils

Radio Replies Volume Two: Man
Radio Replies Volume Two: Reincarnation
Radio Replies Volume Two: Sin
Radio Replies Volume Two: Christ
Radio Replies Volume Two: Mary

Radio Replies Volume Two: Grace and Salvation
Radio Replies Volume Two: The Sacraments [Baptism]
Radio Replies Volume Two: Confession
Radio Replies Volume Two: Holy Eucharist
Radio Replies Volume Two: The Sacrifice of the Mass

Radio Replies Volume Two: Holy Communion
Radio Replies Volume Two: The Catholic Priesthood
Radio Replies Volume Two: Marriage and Divorce
Radio Replies Volume Two: Extreme Unction
Radio Replies Volume Two: Judgment

Radio Replies Volume Two: Hell
Radio Replies Volume Two: Purgatory
Radio Replies Volume Two: Indulgences
Radio Replies Volume Two: Heaven
Radio Replies Volume Two: The Resurrection of the Body

Radio Replies Volume Two: The End of the World

Chapter Eleven: The Church and Her Moral Teachings

Radio Replies Volume Two: Conscience
Radio Replies Volume Two: Truth

3 posted on 04/29/2011 11:18:24 PM PDT by GonzoII (Quia tu es, Deus, fortitudo mea...Quare tristis es anima mea?)
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