While speaking to believers Friday, Pope Francis likened gossiping to terrorism, saying the practice is dividing those within the Catholic Church. During a homily at his home in Vatican City, Francis compared a person who gossips to "a terrorist who throws a bomb," USA Today reported.
The pope was critical of those who gossip and those who accept it as harmless. “Gossiping is like terrorism because the person who gossips is like a terrorist who throws a bomb and runs away, destroying,” he said, according to USA Today. “With their tongue they are destroying and not making peace.”
The "cunning" gossiper, Francis reportedly said, isn't a suicide bomber because he takes good care of himself. He urged spreading peace with speech, instead of division.
The pope has taken aim at gossip before, most notably addressing the issue last year during his Christmas address to the Curia. He condemned "the terrorism of gossip" that is able to "kill the reputations of our colleagues and brothers in cold blood," the Associated Press reported. Cardinals in attendance reportedly received the critique coolly, the comments drawing just minor applause.
Francis specifically took aim Friday at those who spread gossip within the Catholic Church. "That person is always doing what the serpent did with Adam and Eve, namely destroying peace," he said, USA Today reported. "And this is an evil, this is a sickness within our church: sowing divisions, sowing hatred, not sowing peace."
Francis made other recent headlines for his comments on abortion, which is considered a sin by the Catholic Church. He announced that in the church's Jubilee Year of Mercy, priests would be allowed to absolve Catholics of abortion. Priests will be able to offer forgiveness starting Dec. 8, when the Year of Mercy begins.
The pope made the announcement ahead of a planned visit to the United States in September. He is scheduled to visit Washington, D.C., Sept. 23, then New York and finally Philadelphia during the weekend of Sept. 26-27. In Philadelphia, he is expected to celebrate Mass that Sunday in front of 1.5 million faithful along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.