Pope, subject of gossip, denounces gossips

A poster expressing criticism of Pope Francis is seen in Rome Feb. 5. Several copies of the poster were placed in the center of Rome; some were quickly covered by city authorities. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Vatican City — One day after copies of a poster were plastered around the Rome city center criticizing Pope Francis, the pontiff used his Angelus message to call for an authentic witness free from gossip and maliciousness. 

A fundamental quality of salt that Christians should adopt, is its ability to preserve from corruption, keeping away "the polluting germs of selfishness, envy and malicious gossip," Francis said Feb. 5 in his remarks after the recitation of the Angelus prayer.

The posters featured a stern-faced picture of the pope and the words written in Roman dialect: "Ah Francis, you've taken over congregations, removed priests, decapitated the Order of Malta and the Franciscans of the Immaculate, ignored cardinals ... but where is your mercy?"

The posters, which were placed anonymously, were taken down or covered with a sign that read "illegal posting" by the city of Rome. The Vatican issued no response to them.

The germs of selfishness and gossip, the pope said in his address, "ruin the fabric of communities, which instead should shine as places of hospitality, solidarity and reconciliation."

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