Is it judgmental to point out someone's error?


Full Question

In a discussion with a non-Catholic, I pointed out that his beliefs were incorrect or unfounded according to Catholic Church teaching. He accused me of being judgmental. But failure or refusal to accept the truth could have eternal consequences. What constitutes being judgmental?

Answer

First, pointing out the truth is not judgmental. Here are a few more examples of what does not constitute being judgmental:

  • It is not judgmental to make a moral appraisal of whether a person’s actions are sinful or whether the person is likely culpable for them.
  • It is not judgmental to have a negative emotional reaction to what is objectively evil.
  • It is not judgmental to bear in mind that a person you have forgiven has committed harmful actions in the past and may commit them again in the future.

One way to avoid being judgmental is to avoid making rash judgments.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor’s thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way: "Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another’s statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved" (CCC 2478, cf. St. Ignatius, Spiritual Exercises 22).

 


Peggy Frye