Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Slander
Slander is the attributing to another of a fault of which one knows him to be innocent. It contains a twofold malice, that which grows out of damage unjustly done to our neighbor's good name and that of lying as well. Theologians say that this latter guilt considered in itself, in so far as it is an offence against veracity, may not be grievous, but that nevertheless it will frequently be advisable to mention it in confession, in order that the extent and method of reparation may be settled. The important thing to note of slander is that it is a lesion of our neighbor's right to his reputation. Hence moralists hold that it is not specifically distinct from mere detraction. For the purpose of determining the species of this sin, the manner in which the injury is done is negligible. There is, however, this difference between slander and detraction: that, whereas there are circumstances in which we may lawfully expose the misdeeds which another has actually committed, we are never allowed to blacken his name by charging him with what he has not done. A lie is intrinsically evil and can never be justified by any cause or in any circumstances. Slander involves a violation of commutative justice and therefore imposes on its perpetrator the obligation of restitution. First of all, he must undo the injury of the defamation itself. There seems in general to be only one adequate way to do this: he must simply retract his false statement. Moralists say that if he can make full atonement by declaring that he has made a mistake, this will be sufficient; otherwise he must unequivocally take back his untruth, even at the expense of exhibiting himself a liar. In addition he is bound to make compensation to his victim for whatever losses may have been sustained as a result of his malicious imputation. It is supposed that the damage which ensues has been in some measure foreseen by the slanderer.
JOSEPH F. DELANY