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Chiacchiere e pettegolezzo

Like most Italian words they roll off the tongue and sound great; but they disguise destructive fruit. Or so says Pope Francis in this morning's homily, the latest example of his "sermo humilis" style.Idle and aimless chatter (chiacchiere) and gossip (pettegolezzo) poison the spiritual environment.

"We all chatter in the Church! As Christians we chatter! The chatter is hurtful? We hurt one another. It is as if we want to put each other down; instead of growing one makes the other feel small while I feel great. That will not do! It seems nice to chatter ... I do not know why, but it looks nice. Like sweetness of honey, right? You take one and then another, and another, and another, and in the end you have a stomach ache. And why ? The chatter is like that eh? It is 'sweet at first and it ruins you, it ruins your soul! Rumors are destructive in the Church, they are destructive ... Its 'a little' like the spirit of Cain who killed his brother, his tongue; it kills his brother!"

Clearly, not the tongues of Pentecost. And in a passage of the homily not reported by Vatican Radio, Francis added: " il diavolo vuole quello!" -- "it's what the devil desires!"

About the Author

Rev. Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is Associate Professor of Theology Emeritus at Boston College.



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Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

A comment on another thread recommended this piece on the "America" site: Pope Francis saw it too. It makes for good meditation on the Vigil of Pentecost.

"We supply misinformation: we tell only half that suits us and not the other half, the other half we do not say because it is not convenient for us. You smile at that ... Is that true or not? Did you see that thing? It goes on. The second is defamation: When a person truly has a flaw, it is big, they tell it, 'like a journalist' ... And the character of this person is ruined. And the third is the slander of saying things that are not true. It is like killing ones brother! All three - disinformation, defamation and slander - are sins! This is sin! It is to slap Jesus in the person of his children, his brothers. "Jesus had sisters, too. (Unnamed in Mark, although his brothers' names are listed.)The passage from Francis makes me think of the abuse of American nuns during the inquisition they were subjected to. Misinformation and half-truths by their detractors. Defamation by tattletales and liars. Questionnaires. Intrusions into their homes at their expense. Interrogations. And all in secret. Francis could do a lot to heal the wounds by explaining the reasons for the insulting treatment of Jesus' sisters and by revealing the findings of the intruders. Was il diavolo delighted with the investigation?

It's fine to denounce aimless chatter and gossip. But the real solution is to change the institutional environment of secrecy, lack of accountability, and lack of representation in which they so easily bloom.

I dont think everything Pope Francis says is intended to deflect attention from challenges confronting the hierarchy, or to dismiss their importance. I think sometimes hes simply trying to teach us all how to love one another better. Sometimes an umbrella

Jeanne Follman hit the nail on head.Also from the article on this morning's homily:--The Christian must overcome the temptation to "interfere in the lives of others," was the exhortation of Pope Francis at Mass this morning at the Casa Santa Marta. --Wow. Certainly a lot to meditate on in those words. I do wonder if they have any meaning in terms of the Pope's plan for governance of the Church. Frankly it has sometimes felt like some offices in the Curia exist precisely to "interfere in lives of others".

I think the "who" part of who we talk about matters. Poor Lindsay Lohan and Amanda Bynes are these vulnerable young girls and there is something really twisted about trashing them, even if they are in a lot of ways the cause of their own problems. But I don't think it is the same thing when the powerless criticise the powerful.

The personnel in the Vatican are notorious for their pettiness and gossip. Perhaps Francis is signaling to them and others that such activity is especially undesirable in a place which leads likd example. As far as Criticizing Francis for not changing the structure of the church, it is really to early to tell. Further it will take some doing and maneuvering to correct thirty five years of restorationists.

What Bill Mazzella said. I also think that one of Francis' goals in all of this is to try to provide an example of how to be a bishop, as well as preaching to us "ordinary" Christians. He is very focused on being Bishop of Rome, as well as pastor of his little parish, the Vatican City State.

David,I agree with your point. Let me just underscore that, precisely because he's "preaching to us 'ordinary' Christians," the content is striking. He's not just preaching to "them." I did a riff on the "tongue" that tears down and the "tongues of the Spirit" that build up in my Pentecost homily. From the feedback the congregation had no trouble relating to the theme -- and not a Vaticanista among them.

Francis made the point recently that it is not just part of the Church that needs to be renewed --- it is the *whole* Church and *always*.

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