Our Holy Father, Pope Francis recently gave an important pastoral instruction.
Gossip, he explained, is one of the most dangerous sins because it is so subtle and ambiguous -- many are unable to recognize it. Be on alert against gossip whenever you hear of “secret information” being circulated, or if you hear anyone else’s name is used in a conversation. Gossip exists whenever persons “talk about others” in less than a favorable way.
The root of gossip is negativeness, judgementalism, slander. Avoid associating with people who gossip “A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much” (Prov. 20:19). You probably remember the old saying: “If you can’t say something good about others, don’t say anything at all.” Wise advice if you wish to avoid sin.
Gossip often masquerades as “concern” for others. Rumors or gossip will seem more palatable if they first hide behind a pretentious expression of concern. “I hate to say anything about this to you, but I’m ’concerned’ about so and so.” At other times the gossiper will seek you out as their “confidante” to unload their “heavy heart” about their concerns. “I’m very troubled about so and so and I don’t know who else to talk to about it.” In reality, the gossip is not sincerely concerned about solving the problem, only in talking about it -- stirring it up. “A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends” (Prov. 16:28). A gossip thrives on the negative, the controversial, and the sensational.
The gossip is like a spider looking for a prey to lure into their trap of gossiping. They may confide to you secrets or their private concerns about other people. Perhaps in condolements, you may express your half-hearted agreement with their concerns, or you may even be enticed to confide your secret concerns to them. Consequently, the gossip will eventually repeat the process with someone else -- but next time, they will add your name as an endorsement of their private “issue,” and will eventually even disclose the secrets you shared to them. And on and on it goes.
There are times, says the Pope, when people need to confide their own problems with a friend in the Lord. But avoid revealing anything to a person who gossips -- they can’t be trusted. “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret” (Prov. 11:13).
Pope Francis says there are things to remember about gossip:
Pope Francis went on to say what we should to do about gossip:
“I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth as long as the wicked are in my presence” (Psalms 39:1). One of the best ways to avoid gossip, and embrace charity, is to pray always and never lose heart.BACK TO LIST