Detraction of others in any shape or form is a pernicious sin. Like pine gum on the fingers, removing detraction from one's thoughts, words, and actions requires more than soap and water.
Detraction belittles, denigrates, lessens, smears, puts down, besmirches, diminishes, deprecates, depreciates, condemns, mocks, disparages, slanders, libels, and bullies others. Most often, the poison of detraction trickles or erupts from anger, envy and malicious criticism. Detraction serves to lower another's self-esteem and standing as a person among peers, as a child of God.
Wrongful judging occurs in detraction. Rightful judging is that which derives from thoughtful observation, wise and holy discernment, by those whose position is to rightfully judge. The intent of rightful judging is to discover truth and desire justice. There are few occasions other than in the legal profession, in which we are likely to be called upon to rightfully judge.
Discernment is more a personal matter of which we are to make critical judgments regarding ourselves, our actions, our thoughts. Discernment of self is necessary for spiritual growth; discernment of others is not so necessary. If we honestly discern our own thoughts, words, and actions, we will have enough information to make changes in our lives. Self-discernment, thus, will replace the temptation to deceive ourselves that we are only "discerning" others, when in fact we slip into judging them.
For example, a young man came to do some plumbing when this hermit was yet ill. He ruined some plumbing parts, made vital errors in placement of holes for pipes, and misspoke about code. The hermit detracted the young man by discussing his wrong-doings with others, as well as slipped into anger over the wages paid and costs to replace parts and redo the project.
Holy discernment would have provided the hermit with all the truth it needed--without detraction of the plumber. Had this hermit privately recognized the young man's errors, that would have been enough to know what actions to take in remedying the plumbing. If the errors had amounted to great sums, there is legal recourse via the law of the land. In this situation, prayer for the young man, privately letting him know he had erred, and giving him opportunity to make right his wrongs, is the correct course of action--not detraction.
A key element in rightful judging and wise discernment is factual truths and what we do with factual truths. If the facts upon which we base our judging and discerning are not true but more our opinions, then we slip into wrongful judging and wrong discernment. We next can slide on and into detraction if we think, write, or speak based upon our inaccurate facts or upon our opinions.
Jesus is clear on how to avoid the sin of detraction (which does include wrongful judging--and best to avoid judging unless by profession a judge in the land's justice system!).
"Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you" (Luke 6:36-38).
[Yesterday while consolidating grains of rice from one container into another, the marvelous image of a good measure came clear. While pouring the rice it seemed the canister could not possibly hold all the grains. The nothing Catholic hermit tamped the rice, shook it down, and what seemed impossible for the canister to hold, poured in with space remaining! How pictorially metaphoric, Jesus' words!]
God bless His Real Presence in us! Little children, let us love one another! Refrain from any temptation to detract others. Let our judging and discerning be of ourselves, for therein is the greatest opportunity for growth--and blessed gifts--of remaining in His Love!