Pope: Gossiping is 'plague worse than Covid'

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Pope Francis said on Sunday that gossiping is a "plague worse than Covid" that is seeking to divide the Catholic Church.

Francis strayed from his prepared text to double down on his frequent complaint about gossiping within church communities and even within the Vatican bureaucracy. Francis didn't give specifics during his weekly blessing, but went on at some length to say the devil is the "biggest gossiper" who is seeking to divide the church with his lies.

"Please brothers and sisters, let's try to not gossip," he said. "Gossip is a plague worse than Covid. Worse. Let's make a big effort: No gossiping!"

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Charles and Camilla visit the Vatican
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Charles and Camilla visit the Vatican
Pope Francis (C) welcomes Britain's Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, as they arrive for a private audience on April 4, 2017 at the Vatican. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Vincenzo PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP via Getty Images)
Pope Francis, flanked by the prefect of the papal household Georg Gaenswein (R) walks past Swiss Guards on is way to a private audience with Britain's Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, on April 4, 2017 at the Vatican. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Vincenzo PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP via Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - APRIL 04: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall are welcomed by the prefect of the papal household Georg Gaenswein as they arrive at the Vatican for an audience of Pope Francis on April 4, 2017 in Vatican City, Vatican. The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are in Italy for a six-day visit. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
Pope Francis (Jorge Mario Bergoglio) meeting Charles Prince of Wales and Camilla Duchess of Cornwall in the study of Paul VI Audience Hall. Vatican City, 4th April 2017 (Photo by Grzegorz Galazka/Archivio Grzegorz Galazka/Mondadori via Getty Images)
Pope Francis (C) stands with Britain's Prince Charles, Prince of Wales (L) and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, during a private audience on April 4, 2017 at the Vatican. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Vincenzo PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP via Getty Images)
Britain's Prince Charles (C) and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall visit the Archivum Secretum Apostolicum Vaticanum (Vatican's Secret Archives) on April 4, 2017 before a private audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / ALESSANDRO BIANCHI (Photo credit should read ALESSANDRO BIANCHI/AFP via Getty Images)
Pope Francis (C) exchanges gifts with Britain's Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, during a private audience on April 4, 2017 at the Vatican. / AFP PHOTO / POOL AND AFP PHOTO / Vincenzo PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP via Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - APRIL 04: Pope Francis meets Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall during an audience on April 4, 2017 in Vatican City, Vatican. Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are in Italy for a six day visit. (Photo by Vatican Pool/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - APRIL 04: Pope Francis exchanges gifts with Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall during an audience on April 4, 2017 in Vatican City, Vatican. Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are in Italy for a six day visit. (Photo by Vatican Pool/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - APRIL 04: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall visit the Vatican Apostolic Library before a private audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican on April 4, 2017 in Vatican City, Vatican. The royal couple ihave been in Italy for a five-day visit during which they visited the city of Florence, Camilla visited the city of Naples and the ancient archaeological site of Herculaneum, while Prince Charles, visited Amatrice, the town devastated by a 6.0 magnitude earthquake and where 297 people died last summer. (Photo by Vatican Pool - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - APRIL 04: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall visit the Vatican Apostolic Library before a private audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican on April 4, 2017 in Vatican City, Vatican. The royal couple ihave been in Italy for a five-day visit during which they visited the city of Florence, Camilla visited the city of Naples and the ancient archaeological site of Herculaneum, while Prince Charles, visited Amatrice, the town devastated by a 6.0 magnitude earthquake and where 297 people died last summer. (Photo by Vatican Pool - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - APRIL 04: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall visit the Vatican Apostolic Library before a private audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican on April 4, 2017 in Vatican City, Vatican. The royal couple ihave been in Italy for a five-day visit during which they visited the city of Florence, Camilla visited the city of Naples and the ancient archaeological site of Herculaneum, while Prince Charles, visited Amatrice, the town devastated by a 6.0 magnitude earthquake and where 297 people died last summer. (Photo by Vatican Pool - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - APRIL 04: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall visit the Vatican Apostolic Library before a private audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican on April 4, 2017 in Vatican City, Vatican. The royal couple ihave been in Italy for a five-day visit during which they visited the city of Florence, Camilla visited the city of Naples and the ancient archaeological site of Herculaneum, while Prince Charles, visited Amatrice, the town devastated by a 6.0 magnitude earthquake and where 297 people died last summer. (Photo by Vatican Pool - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - APRIL 04: Pope Francis exchanges gifts with Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall during an audience on April 4, 2017 in Vatican City, Vatican. Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are in Italy for a six day visit. (Photo by Vatican Pool/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - APRIL 4: Cornwall's Duchess Camilla smiles as she leaves after she and Britain's Prince Charles attended an audience with Pope Francis in the Paul VI hall's studio, Vatican City, Vatican, on April 4, 2017. (Photo by RICCARDO DE LUCA/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - APRIL 4: Britain's Prince Charles (R) and Cornwall's Duchess Camilla (L) leave after their audience with Pope Francis at the Paul VI hall's studio, Vatican City, Vatican, on April 4, 2017. (Photo by RICCARDO DE LUCA/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - APRIL 04: Pope Francis arrives at the Paul VI Hall for an audience with Prince Charles Prince of Wales and Camilla Duchess of Cornwall on April 4, 2017 in Vatican City, Vatican. Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are in Italy for a six days visit. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - APRIL 04: Camilla Duchess of Cornwall arrives at the Paul VI Hall for an audience of Pope Francis on April 4, 2017 in Vatican City, Vatican. Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are in Italy for a six days visit. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - APRIL 04: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall visit the Vatican Apostolic Library before a private audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican on April 4, 2017 in Vatican City, Vatican. The royal couple is in Italy for a five-day visit during which they visited the city of Florence, Camilla visited the city of Naples and the ancient archaeological site of Herculaneum, while Prince Charles, visited Amatrice, the town devastated by a 6.0 magnitude earthquake and where 297 people died last summer. (Photo by Vatican Pool - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - APRIL 04: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall visit the Vatican Apostolic Library before a private audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican on April 4, 2017 in Vatican City, Vatican. The royal couple ihave been in Italy for a five-day visit during which they visited the city of Florence, Camilla visited the city of Naples and the ancient archaeological site of Herculaneum, while Prince Charles, visited Amatrice, the town devastated by a 6.0 magnitude earthquake and where 297 people died last summer. (Photo by Vatican Pool - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
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Francis' comments came as he elaborated on a Gospel passage about the need to correct others privately when they do something wrong. The Catholic hierarchy has long relied on this "fraternal correction" among priests and bishops to correct them when they err without airing problems in public.

Survivors of sexual abuse have said this form of private reprimand has allowed abuse to fester in the church and let both predator priests and superiors who covered up for them escape punishment

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