VATICAN CITY (AP) – Pope Francis said on Sunday that gossip is a “scourge worse than COVID” that seeks to divide the Catholic Church.
Francis strayed from his prepared text to duplicate his frequent complaint about gossip within church communities and even within the Vatican bureaucracy. Francis did not give details during his weekly blessing, but went on to say that the devil is the “biggest talker” who seeks to divide the church with his lies.
“Please brothers and sisters, let’s try not to chat,” he said. “Gossip is a worse scourge than COVID. Worst. Let’s make a big effort: no gossip! “
Francis’ comments came as he was developing a gospel passage about the need to correct others in private when they do something wrong. The Catholic hierarchy has long relied on this “fraternal correction” among priests and bishops to correct them when they are wrong without denouncing the problems in public.
Survivors of sexual abuse said this form of private reprimand allowed the abuse to spread throughout the church and allowed predatory priests and superiors who covered them to escape punishment.