On Gossip

I had the mis-fortune of overhearing gossip this evening, prior to the beginning of the vigil Mass. It was the sort of gossip that was so stupid and really didn’t need to be said, let alone in the church, mere feet from our Lord in the Tabernacle, and just crushed the peace I had in my heart.

Therefore, not only must one not make an attempt on the life of others, but one must not even pour on him the poison of anger and hit him with slander, nor speak ill of him. And here we arrive at gossip. Gossip can also kill, because it kills the reputation of the person. – Pope Francis

I spent the remainder of the time prior to Mass, trying to process what I had heard, trying to pray those words out of my head, trying to not get upset because the person had moved on but was still talking and causing a disruption to the quiet in the church.

Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury. He becomes guilty:

– of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor;

– of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another’s faults and failings to persons who did not know them;279

– of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them. CCC 2477

As I sat there, looking at our Lord on the Cross, talking with Him, I saw the ugliness that is gossip, the blackness that it causes not just in our souls, but in the souls of others.

The eighth commandment forbids misrepresenting the truth in our relations with others. This moral prescription flows from the vocation of the holy people to bear witness to their God who is the truth and wills the truth. Offenses against the truth express by word or deed a refusal to commit oneself to moral uprightness: they are fundamental infidelities to God and, in this sense, they undermine the foundations of the covenant. – CCC 2464

Our Holy Father, Francis, has spoken against gossip almost since the beginning of his pontificate. We should listen to him, listen to how an unkind word can hurt. Gossip hurts, regardless of how little it is, how innocent one thinks it may be, gossip destroys.


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