Francis: Speaking ill of others an ‘evil, sickness’ in the church

by Joshua J. McElwee

View Author Profile

Join the Conversation

Send your thoughts to Letters to the Editor. Learn more

Pope Francis has again colorfully called on members of the Catholic church to avoid gossip or speaking ill of their peers in the faith, saying that the problem of these seeking to sow division among one another is “an evil” and a “sickness” in the church.

In his daily homily reflection at the Casa Santa Marta Friday, Francis said the work of Christians in the midst of “news of war, hate, even in families” is to be “men and women of peace, men and women of reconciliation.”

“And it’s good to ask ourselves: Do I sow peace?” the pope continued. “For example, with my tongue, do I sow peace or do I sow discord? How many times have we heard it said of a person: ‘But they have a serpent’s tongue!’ because they always do that which the serpent did with Adam and Eve, destroying the peace.”

“And this is an evil, this is a sickness in our church: Sowing division, sowing hate, not sowing peace,” said the pontiff.

“If a person, during their life, doesn’t do anything else but make peace and reconciliation, they can be canonized,” said Francis. “That person is a saint.”

“We have to convert ourselves,” he said. “Never a word that may divide, never; never a word that can bring war, small wars; never the gossip.”

Then, using a color analogy he has used several times, the pontiff said: “To make gossip is terrorism.”

“Whoever gossips is like a terrorist that throws a bomb and if it goes off, destroys; destroys with the tongue, doesn’t make peace,” said the pope. “This is cunning, eh? They are not a suicide bomber, no, no, they protect themselves well.”

Offering a final prayer at during the homily, Francis asked that Jesus teach “how to bite my tongue before speaking ill of others.”

[Joshua J. McElwee is NCR Vatican correspondent. His email address is Follow him on Twitter: @joshjmac.]

Latest News


1x per dayDaily Newsletters
1x per weekWeekly Newsletters
2x WeeklyBiweekly Newsletters