The refusal to gossip is the quickest way to sainthood, Pope Francis said at his weekly general audience Aug. 27.
“How much gossip (happens) in parishes,” the pope lamented. “We mustn’t do it. I won’t tell you to cut off your tongue. No. Not that. But do ask the Lord for the grace to not do it, all right?”
The refusal to gossip, in fact, is such an outstanding Christian virtue, it should make a person a saint overnight, the pope said.
He recalled the sterling reputation of an elderly woman who used to work in a parish in his former Archdiocese of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
People remembered her as someone who “never talked badly of others, never gossiped, was always with a smile. A woman like that can be canonized tomorrow. This is beautiful, this is a great example,” he said to applause.
Conflict arises when people judge others; look only at others’ defects, not their gifts; give more weight to differences than common ground; make themselves the top priority; and follow their own ambitions and points of view, he added.
“In a Christian community, division is one of the gravest of sins because it turns it into a sign not of God’s work, but of the devil, who, by definition, separates, ruins relationships and instills prejudice.”
The pope asked people to examine their consciences and sincerely repent “for all the times in which we caused division or misunderstanding in our communities.”
He asked people pray for the grace to better reflect the “beautiful and joyful” unity of Jesus and the Father, and the grace “to not talk badly about others, not criticize, not gossip, and to love each other.”
“This is the holiness of the church: in recognizing in each other the image of God,” who calls for continual conversion in everyone.