VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Backstabbing and gossip hurt people and harm God’s desire for a united human family, Pope Francis said.
Unity is a gift from God, “but often we struggle to live it out,” he said. “We are the ones who create lacerations.”
The pope also asked people to pray for persecuted Christians in the world and to be genuinely concerned about their plight, just as one would be for a family member in distress.
At his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square Sept. 25, Pope Francis continued his series of audience talks about the creed — looking at what Catholics believe about the church — and focused on the Catholic belief in “one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.”
Catholics of every culture, language and part of the world are united in their common baptism and in sharing the church’s one faith and sacramental life, the pope said.
This unity in faith, hope, the sacraments and ministry “are like columns that support and hold together the one great edifice of the church,” he said. And it also helps Catholics feel like members of one family, “united no matter the distance” between them.
But the pope asked people to reflect upon whether they live out this unity or are they uninterested — preferring to be closed off from others, isolated within their own community, group of friends or nation.
“It’s sad to see a ‘privatized’ church because of egoism and this lack of faith,” he said.
It’s especially sad when there are so many fellow Christians in the world who are suffering or being persecuted because of their faith, he said.
“Am I indifferent or is it like someone in the family is suffering?” he asked.
He asked everyone to be honest with themselves and respond in their hearts: “How many of you pray for Christians who are persecuted” and for those who are in difficulty for professing and defending the faith?
“It’s important to look beyond one’s own fence, to feel oneself as church, one family of God,” he said.
But throughout history and even today, people within the church have not always lived this unity, he said.
“Sometimes misunderstandings, conflicts, tensions and divisions crop up that harm (unity), and so the church doesn’t have the face we would want, it doesn’t demonstrate love and what God wants.”
“And if we look at the divisions that still exist among Christians, Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants, we feel the hard work (needed) to make this unity fully visible.”
The world today needs unity, he said: “We need reconciliation, communion, and the church is the home of communion.”
Building unity starts with oneself and starts at home, the pope said.
“Everyone ask yourselves: Do I build unity in my family, parish and community or am I a gossiper? Am I the reason for division and difficulty?”
The pope said talking badly about others hurts everyone, including the church and communities.
“Christians must bite their tongues before gossiping,” he said. “That will do us good because that way the tongue swells up, and you can’t talk” badly about others, he said to laughter and applause from the crowd.
He asked people to have the humility to repair the divisions in one’s life “with patience and sacrifice” and follow the Prayer of St. Francis to be instruments of God’s peace.
“Humility, gentleness, magnanimity and love for preserving unity are the real pathways of the church,” he said.
Because the Holy Spirit is the real “engine” behind the life and renewal of the church, prayer is important. Unity in diversity comes from the Holy Spirit, which everyone received with baptism and confirmation, he added.
The true richness of the church “is what unites us, not what divides us,” he said.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
PREVIOUS: Agencies stretching to meet needs of Syrians displaced by civil war
NEXT: Philippine bishops call for release of hostages as gunfights rage
Once again, as we have been reading over the last several weeks, another good article for all of us to reflect on the Pope’s words of wisdom. What comes to mind is a profound question that is of utmost importance to every Christian and every one of God’s children. Do I want this issue, the sin of gossip and of the 8th Commandment to be what keeps me out of Heaven? Without a doubt, everyone reading this will say “no”. And going back to the Pope’s recent interview with “America” magazine, this is exactly what the Pope is communicating to faithful Catholics. If we attend Mass seven days a week, have many “Church friends”, prayer groups and faithfully attend the March for Life every year, but still gossip, backstab and refuse to forgive our “enemies”, we have still failed our Lord. In addition, we will also be ineffective witnesses of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let us ponder the Gospels and learn from them. At the end of the day, those who condemned Christ were not the “bad people” and the sinners. It was the highly religious and Letter of the Law individuals at that time that He was up against. This is what our Holy Father is communicating to us. We will never be able to evangelize the lost, suffering and forgotten with a smug attitude and a “holier than thou” disposition. And I believe we all have to ask ourselves a very profound question today, is there someone that I need to reach out to today and show them God’s love? Do I need to pick up the phone or send a letter or some type of message to someone today saying, ” I’m sorry”…or “Will you forgive me?” The Gospel is also personal and God does ask us to go deep within out hearts and make amends with our enemies, if possible. Let’s not look outside of what God is speaking in our hearts. Ask yourself that difficult question, “Do I want to miss out on Heaven because I could not humble myself as Jesus did?”