Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As pastor, it is my role to help you grow in your knowledge of and love for Jesus Christ and his Church. I walk with you as a fellow pilgrim, while at the same time, the Lord has given me the task of leading you as a father. I hold this role sacred and am humbled to serve in this capacity. As a father, then, a spiritual issue of great importance has surfaced in recent weeks that needs to be addressed. The sin of gossip is very much a problem in our Fairfield community, and even, unfortunately, in our parish.
Gossip is a sin against the eighth commandment (“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor”). As you know, it can take many forms, whether it means the spreading of false rumors, the sharing of unnecessary information, exaggerating the truth, speaking against a person’s good name or reputation, or simply speaking negatively about others. Gossip is especially dangerous to church and faith communities because it is so gravely opposed to true charity. I cannot gossip about someone or something that I truly love and respect; thus gossip demonstrates a lack of love and a lack of respect.
Pope Francis has repeatedly urged Catholics to avoid the sin of gossip, especially within their parish communities. Early in his pontificate, he spoke these words to a crowd gathered for an audience: “It’s so rotten, gossip. At the beginning, it seems to be something enjoyable and fun, like a piece of candy. But at the end, it fills the heart with bitterness and also poisons us…I tell you the truth, I am convinced that if each one of us would purposely avoid gossip, at the end, we would become a saint! It’s a beautiful path!” Our Holy Father has called gossip a form of terrorism that brings division to communities. At a meeting in Rome last month, Pope Francis pointed out that “in a parish where the faithful gossip all day against everyone, against the priest, the poor priest is alone without the community’s witness to Christ. I mention gossip because for me, it is one of the ugliest things in Christian communities.”
Given the great problem that gossip is, both around town and in our own parish, I challenge you to take the Holy Father’s words to heart. For the good of our parish family, we must stop gossiping in all its forms. For the good of our wider town community, we must be instruments that put an end to gossip each and every time it presents itself. We must, instead of being gossipers, those who harm the community and sin against the harmony of our human relations, be instruments of unity, charity, and peace. We have a responsibility to ignore gossip when we hear it and work to end its spread whenever possible. Finally, we ask God’s forgiveness for our own sins of gossip and resolve to begin anew, walking in the grace and unity Christ intends for the Church.