Gossip helps devil undermine Church, Pope says

Pope Francis greets pilgrims druing his general audience 92513 Credit Elise Harris CNA Pope Francis greets pilgrims druing his general audience on Sept. 25, 2013. | Elise Harris / CNA.

Pope Francis celebrated Mass for the Vatican police force today, exhorting them to fight in the war against evil by rejecting the temptation to gossip.

He warned that among those who live and work in the Vatican, "the devil seeks to create an internal war, a kind of civil spiritual war" by means of idle chatter, said Pope Francis on September 28.

The temptation to gossip is present for everyone, noted Pope Francis, "even for me."

Gossip is a sin against unity which the devil uses to undermine the community of the Church, he explained.

The morning Mass was held outdoors in the Lourdes grotto of the Vatican gardens.

The Mass was for members of the Vatican police corps, known as the Gendarmes. The Gendarmerie was founded in 1816 by Pope Pius VII after the dissolution of Napoleon's empire.  While the Swiss Guards are primarily dedicated to protecting the Pope, the Gendarmes are responsible for the security and public order of Vatican City.

Pope Francis said the police force must not only defend the Vatican against thieves or attacking armies.

"Napoleon is not coming anymore," he quipped.

Instead, the "war here today is rather something else." 

"It is a war that is not waged with the weapons that we recognize: it is a war waged with the tongue," he explained.

Pope Francis told the police force to be attentive to gossip within the Vatican walls.

"If (you hear) someone gossiping, stop him! (Say) 'here there can be none of that: walk out of St. Anne's Gate. Go outside and talk there! Here you cannot!'"

This spiritual war is one of light and darkness, said the Pope.

On the eve of the Feast of St. Michael the Archangel, the Gendarmerie's patron saint, Pope Francis asked for his intercession.

"We ask St. Michael to help us in this war: never speak ill of each other, never open your ears to gossip," the Pope said.

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