Pope Francis has claimed that gossiping is a “plague worse than Covid” that is seeking to divide the church.
In a bizarre sermon on Sunday the head of the church strayed from his pre-planned text to complain about gossip.
Francis used his weekly blessing to go on, at some length, about whispers within church communities and the Vatican.
Without going into specifics, he said the devil is “the biggest gossiper” who is seeking to divide the church with lies.
The Pope told worshippers: “Please, brothers and sisters, let's make an effort not to gossip. Gossiping is a worse plague than COVID. Worse. Let’s make a big effort – no gossiping!
He added from during his weekly address from a window above St. Peter's Square: "The devil is the great gossip. He is always saying bad things about others because he is the liar who tries to split the Church.”
The Pope has regularly warned of the risks of gossiping and has also railed against Internet trolls.
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"If something goes wrong, offer silence and prayer for the brother or sister who make a mistake, but never gossip," he said on Sunday.
The Pope’s off-the-cuff comments came as he spoke about a bible passage on the need to correct wrongdoers privately rather than in public.
When people see someone making a mistake, "the first thing we usually do is go and tell someone else about it. Gossip like this closes off the community," the pope said following a passage in the Bible where Jesus explains what must be done to welcome back those who have done wrong.
The Catholic hierarchy has long relied on a “fraternal correction” among priests and bishops to not air problems in public.
Sexual abuse survivors have said this form of private reprimand has allowed abuse to fester in the church and let predator priests and escape punishment, The Guardian reported.
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