Pope Francis has surprised worshippers with a sermon on the unlikely subject of gossip.
Or perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised at all as the Pontiff has shown himself ready to embrace modern subjects from the pulpit and on social media.
He raised the subject of gossip at his weekly address to pilgrims in St Peter’s Square. His comments were reported in the Catholic news magazine, The Tablet.
He pleaded with Catholics not to engage in malicious gossip, saying that it is worse than Covid-19.
“When we see a mistake, a defect, a slip, in that brother or sister, usually the first thing we do is go and tell others about it, to chat. And gossip closes the heart of the community, closes the unity of the Church.
“The great talker is the devil, who always goes about saying the bad things of others, because he is the liar who tries to disunite the Church, to alienate his brothers and not to make community. Please, brothers and sisters, we must make an effort not to chat. Chatting is a worse pest than Covid! Let’s make an effort: no chatter.”
Pope Francis’ address was based on the gospel, Matthew 18:15-20, in which Jesus addresses the subject of fraternal correction.
“It is a question of going to the brother with discretion, not to judge him but to help him realise what he has done. How many times have we had this experience: someone comes and tells us: ‘But, listen, you are wrong in this. You should change a little in this.’ Perhaps at first we get angry, but then we thank, because it is a gesture of brotherhood, of communion, of help, of recovery.”
“If this does not work, Jesus then advises an attempt to resolve the issue with two or three witnesses, not to accuse and judge, but to help.
“If things don’t go right, silence and prayer for the brother and sister who are wrong, but never gossip.
“May the Virgin Mary help us to make fraternal correction a healthy habit, so that in our communities we can always establish new fraternal relationships, founded on mutual forgiveness and above all on the invincible power of God’s mercy.”
Pope Francis is no stranger to publicity in the wider media and has often commented on current affairs. He has also shown a willingness to make changes and challenge traditional views.
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