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Did I lie about the Catechism and lying?
Posted By Eric Sammons On March 25, 2010 @ 12:50 pm In Pro-life | Comments Disabled
This is what I love about the Internet. Earlier this morning I had a post  about lying, and I mentioned that the Catechism (in paragraph 2483) stated, “To lie is to speak or act against the truth in order to lead into error someone who has the right to know the truth.” No more than a few hours later an observant reader said that the part about “someone who has a right to know” is NOT in fact in the Catechism. Although I copied it straight from my Catechism sitting on my bookshelf, when I looked it up online, sure enough, paragraph 2483 stated “To lie is to speak or act against the truth in order to lead into error.” But in my copy of the Catechism DOES state “To lie is to speak or act against the truth in order to lead into error someone who has the right to know the truth.” So what is the story here?
It looks like this paragraph was actually changed between the original 1994 version of the Catechism (which is what I own) and the official version which was released in 1997. If you look at this page , you will see a large number of updates were made, including the following:
2483 The second sentence of this paragraph presently reads:
“To lie is to speak or act against the truth in order to lead into error someone who has the right to know the truth.”
This sentence will be modified to read:
To lie is to speak or act against the truth in order to lead someone into error.
Obviously, this change makes a major difference, and my whole argument in my previous post is based on the (removed) section of that sentence.
That being said, I’m not going to change my underlying argument that telling an untruth can be moral in certain extreme circumstances, such as saving the life of another. We have examples in Scripture of this occurring, and I do not think anyone in their right (moral) mind would condemn someone who deceived Nazis while hiding Jews. I do not think the new wording of the Catechism eliminates the possibility that one can tell an untruth to someone without the right to the truth, just that it does not explicitly condone it either and most likely wanted to avoid confusion in this area. Perhaps also those in charge of the Catechism wanted to prevent the possibility of the abuse of this condition; as I mentioned myself, it could be easily abused. But the very fact that the clause was in the first edition (which was vetted and edited by hundreds of bishops and theologians) shows that the concept is not against Catholic teaching.
Note also that I am not saying that someone is morally obligated to tell an untruth in those situations, just that it would not be immoral to do so (although if I was the Jew hiding in your basement I’d rather you did tell the untruth).
Article printed from Divine Life – A Blog by Eric Sammons: http://ericsammons.com/blog
URL to article: http://ericsammons.com/blog/2010/03/25/did-i-lie-about-the-catechism-and-lying/
URLs in this post:
 post: http://ericsammons.com/blog/2010/03/25/can-we-lie-to-save-lives/
 this page: http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/updates.htm
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