Vatican City, Sep 25, 2019 / 04:30 am
Pope Francis said Wednesday that slander is a 'diabolical cancer' that seriously damages the Church.
“We know that slander always kills. This 'diabolical cancer,' which arises from the desire to destroy a person's reputation, also attacks the rest of the ecclesial body,” Pope Francis said Sept. 25 in his general audience in St. Peter’s Square.
The pope warned that slander seriously damages the Church when “there is a coalition to smear someone” due to “petty interests or to cover up their own inadequacies.”
The Catholic Church teaches that the sins of slander, or calumny, involve remarks contrary to the truth that harm the reputation of others and give occasion for false judgments concerning them.
“To avoid rash judgement, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor’s thoughts, words, and deeds in a favourable way,” paragraph 2478 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states.
“Honor is the social witness given to human dignity, and everyone enjoys a natural right to the honor of his name and reputation and to respect. Thus, detraction and calumny offend against the virtues of justice and charity,” the catechism states.
Pope Francis pointed to the Sanhedrin’s false witnesses and accusations made against Jesus before his crucifixion, and the slanders against Christian martyrs throughout history.
He focused on the Acts of the Apostles account of St. Stephen’s strong words in response to his slanderers’ before his martyrdom.