Pope Francis again speak about the Devil in a sermon about gossip

Pope Francis speaks about the devil often – probably more often than any other pope in modern history.

From News.va, part of what he said:

Pope Francis further developed this reflection. “When we prefer to gossip, gossip about others, criticize others- these are everyday things that happen to everyone, including me – these are the temptations of the evil one who does not want the Spirit to come to us and bring about peace and meekness in the Christian community”. “These struggles always exist” in the parish, in the family, in the neighborhood, among friends”. Instead through the Spirit we are born into a new life, he makes us “meek, charitable.”

How many times is that now?

It is early enough in the pontificate that someone could chase down the explicit mentions and keep track.

That might be useful for the meditations of liberals who praise Francis’ humility but down play or deny the existence of the Devil or Hell’s population.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Francis and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. jbosco88 says:

    Wisdom from the mouth of the youngest altar boy at the Church I attend: “Just because you don’t believe in the Devil, doesn’t mean he doesn’t exist.”

    He’s seven.

  2. McCall1981 says:

    I wonder if spiritual warfare will be one of the themes of his Pontificate?

    This is also timely, going along with Fr. Z’s post on exorcism. Pope Francis seems like he would be supportive and helpful for the Church’s exorcists.

  3. Mark R says:

    Could this be the strong influence of the Spiritual Exercises?

  4. progressive says:

    I’m guessing Francis has completed the exercises twice. Once as a scholastic and again later in life. The two standards are a powerful part of the process and integral in orientating ones life to Christ. I found my long retreat the most profound experience of my life, thirty days of silence and prayer deepened my relationship with God. I saw the best and the worst of me!

    I suggest that if you want an understanding of Francis, pray the examen and pray the words the retreatent leaves the Excercises with

    Take Lord, and receive
    all my liberty, my memory,
    my understanding and my entire will,
    All I have and possess.
    You have given me everything Lord, I return it.
    All is yours, dispose of it according to your will.
    Give me only your love and your grace
    that is enough for me.

  5. marylise says:

    Speaking of counting references to the devil, let’s not forget the New Testament: “evil spirit” 76 times; “demon” 63 times; “Satan” 36 times and “devil” also 36 times. This does not include around 300 miscellaneous references to the accuser, the god of this world, the enemy, the tempter, the wicked one, the murderer from the beginning, the father of lies, the sinner from the beginning, the prince of this world, the serpent, the evil spirit, the unclean spirit, and the impure spirit. Source: Balducci, C. [Translated by Jordan Aumann, O.P.] The Devil: Alive and Active in our World. Alba House, New York, 1990, pp. 20-22.

  6. Pingback: Nuns on the Bus May Remain Stuck in the Great Pumpkin Patch | District of Calamity

  7. Nancy D. says:

    The fact that Pope Francis stated, “we should not judge”, does not preclude Pope Francis from mandating that a statement be read before every Catholic Mass making it clear that those who profess to be Catholic, but deny the truth about The Sanctity of Human Life from the moment of conception, and The Sanctity of Marriage and The Family, are no longer in communion with The Body of Christ, and should not present themselves to receive The Holy Eucharist.

  8. Nancy D. says:

    B.T.W., I am very worried about our Holy Father. why is he in seclusion, and not in a hospital?

  9. JARay says:

    Just extending what Nancy D. has just said about Pope Emeritus Benedict, there is a report circulating that his health is rapidly deteriorating and that we may well not have him with us for very much longer.

  10. McCall1981 says:

    Fr. Lombardi said this rumor isn’t true, but who knows? We should pray for him regardless

  11. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    Nancy asked of Pope Emeritus Benedict, whose health is thought to be deteriorating: “why is he in seclusion, and not in a hospital?”

    A person of advanced years and generalized infirmity may have arrived at a serene acceptance that his earthly life is drawing to a close, and, not wishing to try to stave off the inevitable by submitting to exhausting and humiliating clinical procedures, may prefer instead to spend his remaining days in peace and quiet, in comfortable, homelike, familiar surroundings, with his beloved books and photographs and music.

    Any number of folks of about that age and about that medical condition would feel the same way. “Bah!” they would groan, waving their hand, “I’ve had enough with doctors and hospitals. I’m done! I’m ready! Let me just die at home.”

    Younger people may consider this attitude “giving up,” but it really is not: an acute-care hospital is a place dedicated to one goal: to turn sick and injured persons into well, able-bodied persons as quickly as possible. That goal may no longer be in the picture for our Pope Emeritus; if so, and he may realize this and is at peace with it.

  12. Nancy D. says:

    Since The Vatican is denying that our Holy Father’s health is deteriorating, I feel it is necessary to have someone outside The Vatican check in on our Holy Father, just in case.

  13. Marcello says:

    I’m sure that is what Benedict is feeling, like many octogenarians I have known. Enough is enough with the doctors, endless tests, wasted procedures, etc., they just want to let nature take its coarse. I suspect he is at peace and more than ready to return to his Father’s house.

  14. anna 6 says:

    Pray, pray, pray for Benedict…but do not presume that these rumors are accurate. The author was presenting a book when she made this comment and may have been trying to get some PR.

    “Fr. Lombardi underscored (to EWTN News) that Benedict XVI “does not have any illness” and that “this has been certified by his doctors.”
    He said he was saddened by Gomez-Borrero’s comments and that the Spanish journalist, whom he has known for many years, “has begun to speculate after seeing images of a tired Benedict.”
    “But to say that he has an illness is foolish. There is no basis for this,” the spokesman said.
    “As we all know, Benedict XVI led a very engaged pontificate at his age, and therefore he is enduring the aches and pains of an elderly person who has worked very hard,” Fr. Lombardi added.

  15. anna 6 says:

    Now back to Fr. Z’s topic:
    “How many times is that now?It is early enough in the pontificate that someone could chase down the explicit mentions and keep track.That might be useful for the meditations of liberals who praise Francis’ humility but down play or deny the existence of the Devil or Hell’s population.”

    I LOVE that Papa Francesco has spoken so often about “el diablo”. Isn’t it ironic though, that the panzer cardinal was said to have used the word “joy” with the greatest frequency in his homilies when he became pope!

  16. Supertradmum says:

    I grew up in the Midwest, where gossip was, and still is, I hope, considered a major sin. in my family, we did not discuss anyone’s news, even good news, as it was not our business. MYOB was the code of the Germanic area where I lived.

    My parents are idea people and we never discussed people. This not considered improper. I am not saying we were perfect at this, but the rules were clear.

    To this day, I am very grateful for this upbringing. I can say that parents form the consciences and habits of children from little on.

    I taught my seminary students MYOB and those from the Latin American countries told me it was hard, as their communities always talked about everyone else. However, they did watch what they said about each other in my presence. Old habits die hard.

    Pope Francis obviously knows the danger of idle talk. To make connections with the devil is key, as the devil wants to divide families and good people. As a parent, I encourage other parents to follow his teaching here and help your families stay away from this supposed soft form of badness.

    A family can so easily fall into a critical spirit, instead of one of love. But then, the opposite flaw can happen, where all the children are merely affirmed for no reason. Praise what is praiseworthy, be specific, and discipline what needs to be changed.

    I reposted Voris on hell this morning on my blog. It is very painful to have reminders of eternal punishment, but these are the beginnings of wisdom, even for young persons. Hopefully, Pope Francis can speak to the many people in the parishes here who simply believe in universal salvation.

  17. Supertradmum says:

    sorry about the errors in type–you are all smart enough to figure out the sentences; pray for me as I have been very ill for a week.

  18. JonPatrick says:

    Supertradmum, I am praying for you.

    The statement that we should not judge, from Matthew 7:1 has often been misunderstood and used against people to say you cannot criticize any behavior or apply any objective standard. One must read the whole section to see it in context, that we have to be aware that we are sinners, perhaps worse sinners than the one we are judging, and we in turn will be judged ourselves, which should bring a level of humility to our behavior.

  19. Imrahil says:

    A major sin?

    I doubt it.

    That said, it is precisely the very little sins such as gossip (with less than the intention to be completely charitable – merely retelling news about other people for the sake of sympathetic joy, compassion or other valid motives is no sin) which can lead to bigger ones (which seems to me what our Holy Father is saying).

    (The Latin American culture has over the Germanic culture an initial presumption to be the more Catholic one.)

  20. Wonderful that Pope Francis is preaching against gossip, and the notion that the devil gets involved immediately with this.
    Gossip can bring down families, neighborhoods, parishes, nations. Talking about others is a cause for confession.

    Supertradmum is right on this one. Everyone should be taught never to speak about others outside of their hearing. Good manners are always based on charity – and the properly-brought-up knew this rule well. [I’m sorry to hear you are sick Supertradmum, you have my prayers]

    Can anyone else here add a story about what they were taught about gossip?

    Oh that all priests and religious would explain frequently the rules of ‘fraternal correction’ and the unstoppable effect of gossip!

  21. mamajen says:

    I would definitely say that gossip can be a major sin. It can ruin people’s lives. The internet has made it so much easier to do. People seem to forget that it’s still gossip if it involves a famous person (like Pope Francis), and although it might not hurt the subject of the tongue-wagging, the fallout can be far and wide, and even dangerous.

    I would say it’s probably my biggest weakness. It’s just so easy for a conversation to go in that direction. I’m not someone who enjoys it like a sport and can’t wait to tell everyone I know, but I do often feel ashamed when I realize I’ve been talking about somebody’s faults for no constructive reason. I’ve also learned that the more critical I am of others, the more insecure I am myself, because I assume everyone is nitpicking the very same things about me. Not fun. I am fortunate in that my husband is my complete opposite in this regard–he has no use for gossip. He doesn’t do it, and he doesn’t want to hear it. Having a very smart 4-year-old who soaks things up like a sponge also keeps me in check now. I grew up around gossiping, judgmental people, and I really think it’s a big part of my anxiety issues that started at a very young age.

  22. Mary T says:

    There is a HUGE difference between gossip, which can be mean-spirited, uncharitable, speculative, or merely idle, and other ways of talking about people. Pope Francis clearly meant the first.

    It is excessively, EXCESSIVELY narrow-minded and legalistic to blanketly say “never ever talk about people, even their good news” and to parochially (in the bad sense), patronizingly, flatly condemn cultures that do this. Sharing good news is part of that it means to be human. My Italian family does this joyfully, and cannot always do it when other the other people are within our hearing – for example, we have family members studying for the priesthood overseas, others who travel a lot etc. Heck, some of the people we tell happy stories about are dead.

    I heard the old line that small people talk about things, middling people talk about other people, and the noble and high-minded only talk about ideas. Not to put too fine a point on it, but that’s B.S. Some things are not worth talking about, others are (I speak and discuss and write about creation and the things of nature for example). Some people are worth talking about – those we love, the saints – and very great people, from philosophers to theologians to saints, have done so. Some ideas are worth talking about and some are not. And no, we cannot do an end run and say, “Well, just talk about “ideas” in relation to persons.” Persons are not, as John Paul II put it, merely absolutized consciousness or intellectual ideas/theories/concepts. Their loves, behaviors, thoughts, joys and sorrows, are part of who they are and who we love. Their stories have something to tell us and teach us and worthy of discussion even when they are not in the room. The Holy Spirit is not limited to the intellect.

    I am quite sure Francis was not talking about “zero tolerance” for ALL talk about people not right there in the room when he spoke about gossip.

    I find it appalling to generically condemn Latin Americans (and I assume all other “latin” cultures, as my Italian family and my Spanish friends are like me. In fact, so are my Polish and Russian friends) in favor of , and for not conforming to a “Germanic” frigidity – you vill confrom to how my family was raised my one particular time and place und you vill enchoy it! Your habits vill not be tolerated! (OK, now I JUST DID what someone else did – but see how it comes out? We could all make nasty remarks about cold, emotionless “northern” cultures but it would not only make no sense, it would, to borrow from Caryll Houselander, to be scandalized that Christ should come to so many different people in so many different ways).

    SO: Pope Francis is 100% right. Gossip is bad and tempts one to sin. Lovingly sharing good news (or even bad news, such as when one is asking for prayer for someone experiencing difficulty) stories that edify, etc. etc. etc. about people we know is not bad upbringing but a constitutive way of being a human person in relationship, in the joyous Imago Dei, which is the Imago Trinitatis.

    Now excuse me, I just got some amazing news from my seminarian son which I CAN’T WAIT to discuss with my friends.

  23. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    Regarding gossip:

    I think people can tell very quickly when our speaking about others springs from a heart overflowing with joy and delight in them. “Tony! Tony! Tony!” the impatient father grouses about his newly in-love, teen-aged daughter, “‘Tony says this!’ ‘ Tony believes that!’ Must we always hear about Tony?”

    Yes, we must! Because daughter is in love with Tony and can’t stop talking about him.

    Because love leads us to treasure the beloved in our hearts; and we cannot restrain ourselves from opening our hearts to those others whom we love and sharing what is within. And thus, our delight and joy in the beloved is shared.

    If our beloved is in trouble or in a bad way, this weighs on our hearts, too, and we must open our hearts to those we love and trust, if only to solicit their advice and support.

    David Attenborough is a wonderful producer and on-camera host of nature shows. When he speaks about the birds, the insects, the animals, you can see that he is so caught up, so engaged in his fascination with them, that you the viewer cannot help but be mesmerized by them, as well. Whereas lots of other on-camera hosts appear to be speaking from a place of “Look at me! Don’t I look cool next to this tiger? Ooh-ooh! here’s me looking at the birds” which makes the host as well as the topic boring and tiresome. Attenborough appears utterly forgetful-of-self. . . and that is what makes his narrative so compelling.

    When we speak of others in a forgetful-of-self mode, from a heart opening itself to share its treasure, there is very little danger of gossip. And when we speak of others in any other manner, then, the danger is very great indeed, and would perhaps be better foregone, except for some compelling reason.

  24. shoofoolatte says:

    As a liberal, I am delighted that Pope Francis shows no hesitation to recognize evil and call it by name. He talks very much like a mystic – one who knows deep inner acceptance and forgiveness. This is religion at its highest and finest and truest. I don’t expect that Pope Francis will ever resort to fear of hell or punishment, which is characteristic of more common religion.

  25. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    “I don’t expect that Pope Francis will ever resort to fear of hell or punishment, which is characteristic of more common religion.”

    The Catholic religion, has as its Head the Divine Master who admonished his listeners to”fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.” (Matt 10:28), and who described the torments of everlasting fire in Hell at length (Luke 16), and who referred to eternal punishment many other times.

    To the extent that Pope Francis imitates Our Lord in speaking of the things He spoke of, Francis’ words shall be praiseworthy. And insofar as any pontiff shall omit to imitate the Master in this way when he ought to do so, then that shall be a defect in his conduct as representative of Christ on Earth.

  26. mamajen says:

    I think it’s abundantly clear that Pope Francis was talking about speaking badly of others, not sharing happy news. Even so, I do believe that there is a line that can be crossed when it comes to speaking well of others, also. We should always think about why we want to say something. If the reason is purely selfish, then we might be better off keeping quiet.

  27. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Mary T, thank you.

    You may perhaps be delighted to hear that Germanic people are not necessarily frigid, as someone from a people with almost the complete name in common with that general designation (minus the -ic, that is) can perhaps attest. In fact, not even the Prussians were, if the play The Captain of Köpenick by Zuckmayer is any accurate description of them.

    Sadly, I find again occasion to point to G. K. Chesterton’s On American Morals.

    I guess, also, that aggravating morality – besides the fact that it is always a loss in itself to forbid a good or neutral thing – often has the effect to destroy the delight of morality altogether.

  28. Mary T says:

    Imrahil, thank you! Great post. In reality, I do not think the Germanic peoples are frigid at all: I was just making a point by deliberately stereotyping, as was done to Latin Americans, etc. :-)

    Mamajen, I agree with you – but the poster SPECIFICALLY said this: “we did not discuss anyone’s news, even good news, as it was not our business.” She also said it was considered a “major sin.” I was very shocked at the idea that this “upbringing” (her words) was seen as superior to that of Latin Americans. It reminds me of the characters in so many of Flannery O’Connor’s stories – the utterly complacent women who are so sure that THEIR upbringing was the exactly right one, and that other people had “old habits” that had to “die hard.” In all these stories, the smug get their comeuppance when the Holy Spirit steps into the picture.

    Finally, claiming one’s personal upbringing is a higher standard of “morality” than some other Catholic culture’s is not only “moralism,” which JPII and B16 spoke against so often, but it reminds me of a German class I took for my PhD. I was having a real struggle with the way verbs are broken up into pieces and put at the ends and beginnings of sentences. My German teacher told me that it should be easy because “after all, the structure of the German language exactly mirrors the structure of human thought” (!!!! Talk about provincial!!!)

  29. Imrahil says:

    My German teacher told me that it should be easy because “after all, the structure of the German language exactly mirrors the structure of human thought” (!!!! Talk about provincial!!!)

    It does me a sorrow, but I lieve you dat not be. (Hardly, at any rate…)

  30. Imrahil says:

    Correction, obviously I meant to say:

    It does me sorrow.

    If you’re making a joke, you should be doing it correctly.

  31. Imrahil says:

    Speaking of jokes,

    Old Habits Die Hard

    might be a good movie title.

  32. thomas69 says:

    Hi Fr. Z, I don’t know if you’ve seen this video. It’s a beautiful interview with Cardinal Bergoglio just five months before his election as Pope Francis. Forget all the speculations and typecastings, here you get a real inkling of the man as he talks about the ‘smoke of Satan’, the idolatry of relativism, Marian devotions and more. Just thought I’d share the link in case you might find it helpful to share with your readers as well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7A0PyKITdw&feature=player_embedded

  33. jhayes says:

    Pope Francis warns against triumphalism:

    “Pope Francis said “a great temptation” that lurks in the Christian life is triumphalism. “It is a temptation that even the Apostles had,” he said. Peter had it when he solemnly assured that he would not deny Jesus. The people also experienced it after the multiplication of the loaves.

    “Triumphalism,” the Pope asserted, “is not of the Lord. The Lord came to Earth humbly; he lived his life for 30 years; he grew up like a normal child; he experienced the trial of work and the trial of the Cross. Then, in the end, he resurrected.”

    “The Lord teaches that in life not everything is magical, that triumphalism is not Christian,” the Pope said. The life of the Christian consists of a normality that is lived daily with Christ.

    “This is the grace for which we must ask: perseverance. Perseverance in our walk with the Lord, everyday, until the end,” he stated.

    “That the Lord may save us from fantasies of triumphalism,” he concluded. “Triumphalism is not Christian, it is not of the Lord. The daily journey in the presence of God, this is the way of the Lord.”


  34. The Masked Chicken says:

    “he grew up like a normal child”

    A normal child with the Beatific vision, a sinless mother, an infinitely perfect father, and a near-perfect step-father.

    Fr. William Most wrote a book called, The Consciouness of Christ. Worth reading.


    The Chicken

  35. Pingback: Pope Francis and the Devil | CatholicVote.org

  36. Pingback: Sunday Update on Pope Francis - Big Pulpit

  37. Pingback: Gossip as disturbance, from Pope Francis | Not for Attribution

Comments are closed.