Pope Francis and Christmas Greetings to the Roman Curia

The Holy Father exchange the traditional Christmas greetings with the Roman Curia today.

The Pontiff opted not to reflect on the year past, but instead gave a brief address which included some words of thanks to those who are retiring (not a few) and some of his patented homespun advice.

Suggesting that the people who work in the Curia should be holy, a good option I might add, he said:

Holiness in the Curia also means conscientious objection to gossip! We rightfully insist on the importance of conscientious objection but perhaps we, too, need to exercise it as a means of defending ourselves from an unwritten law of our surroundings, which unfortunately is that of gossip. So let us all be conscientious objectors; and mind you, I am not simply preaching! Gossip is harmful to people, our work and our surroundings.


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  1. mamajen says:

    Amen! Gossip is so easy to fall into. To me, “conscientious objection” means not only not engaging in it personally, but also openly objecting to it when I hear it. I need to get better at that. I know a few people who never seem to have anything bad to say about another person, and I find that very admirable.

  2. catholicmidwest says:

    He calls it what it is. Good for him.

  3. Priam1184 says:

    I like very much that the Holy Father has made a point of attacking gossip. It is one of those little things that people don’t really think about, but it can be the beginning of the road to a lot darker evils for both the individual and the group. I have come to believe that if we don’t tackle the little things we will never be able to deal with the big things i.e. if we cannot deal with gossip we will never be able to eliminate abortion and same sex marriage from our world. Christmas kudos to Pope Francis!

  4. McCall1981 says:

    “Here I would like to mention some of them by name, as a way of expressing my esteem and my gratitude, but we know that, in any list, the first names people notice are the ones that are missing!”

    “We rightfully insist on the importance of conscientious objection but perhaps we, too, need to exercise it as a means of defending ourselves from an unwritten law of our surroundings, which unfortunately is that of gossip.”

    These two sentences seem rather (Gasp!) prudent. Is Francis acknowledging the “controversies” and gossip that have characterized his pontificate? Is he learning how to be Pope? I hope so.

  5. Legisperitus says:

    St. Augustine wrote that his mother St. Monica used to do gossip in reverse. That is, if she had two acquaintances who disliked each other she would try to get the first one to admit something good about the second behind her back, then spread the word to the second that the first had said something good about her and get a favorable comment about the first which she would then pass back, and so forth. In a while the two would become friends.

  6. Supertradmum says:

    I highlighted the gossip bit by the Pope earlier on my small blog as well. Absolutely, one of the greatest problems of some areas is a “culture of gossip”. As an idea person, I really do not want to talk about people or their business, which is their business, not mind.

    I am glad the Pope mentioned this great sin. It is interesting that recent studies have shown that men gossip as much as or more than women.

    I think some cultures gossip more….but is it a horrible, negative, eroding sin.

  7. Supertradmum says:

    oopps sorry, not mine-I do have an eye appointment in January, so be patient-fast growing cataracts.

  8. TNCath says:

    The Hoy Father rightly condemns gossip. I suspect a lot of his decisions and innovations have generated quite a bit of it in the Curia lately. Of course, there is a distinct difference between gossip and discussion or gossip and analysis. I wonder what the Holy Father himself would define “gossip.”

  9. Everyone has right to a good name, glad he pointed it out…that said, name calling is something that also needs to stop as well.

  10. RJHighland says:

    Thank you Pope Frances for bringing this overwhelming and extremely dangerous crisis to light in the Curia of Rome and the world, gossip yeah that’s what Rome and the universal Church really needs to focus on this Holiday Season. Homosexuality in the priesthood, the malestaion of children in our parishes, contraception and abortion, the collapse of the faith in Europe and the Americas, lack of leadership from our bishops those things we over emphisize but Gossip now that is a problem we need to focus our attention on. Gotcha. I know I need to work on my charity.

  11. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    My knowledge of Italian is on the wrong side of rudimentary… What is the range, nuance, flavor, etc. of “chiacchiere”, the word translated “gossip”? (As, say, compared with ‘spettegolare’?)

  12. Vecchio di Londra says:

    Supertradmum, I shall pray that your cataract operation(s) will be a complete success. I hear that it is much more skilfully and easily done these days.

    You are right about the erosive power of gossip, particularly as a power-play. But what we call gossip is not always necessarily malicious or hostile or personal: the boundary between ‘idle gossip’ and the sharing of useful information is quite flexible, and in its most benign forms it can even promote social cohesion. In organizations it’s often most rife (and most destructive) where there’s a gap of trust between the senior management and the workforce. Trust can be won if the CEO makes it clear (s)he sides with the workers.

  13. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    I concur with Vecchio do Londra. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with sharing news and information about others IF you speak about them as if they themselves were present, listening to every word you say, AND if you speak as if Jesus were present right in the room with you, listening to every word (which He is.)

    So, for example, to say “I’m so glad we have Fr. So-and-so in our parish now. He’s wonderful!” or, “Jane is visiting her granddaughter in Georgia over the New Year; it’ll be nice to see her, plus she’ll enjoy a break from our winter weather up here.” or “Lucy and her husband helped me out when my car battery died yesterday – they gave me a jump. That’s my idea of good neighbors.” Positive, charitable news and information.

  14. Katylamb says:

    RJHighland: Why do you have to work on your charity? I doubt the pope needs your forgiveness for speaking as he chooses to speak. He doesn’t have to talk about the issues you mentioned every single time he speaks. He was addressing the curia. Perhaps gossip is a big issue with them. People can go to hell for not controlling their mouths, by the way. You don’t have do commit those things you mentioned to slide into hell. You can gossip your way into hell too.

  15. anna 6 says:

    I think it is fascinating how Pope Francis isn’t at all compelled to follow the protocols of his predecessors. Previous popes always used this opportunity to discuss the major events of the year including the foreign trips and what they saw as the pressing issues facing the Church throughout the world today. Benedict’s address to the Curia were always blockbusters
    There is no reason why Pope Francis has to follow that relatively minor tradition, but still, it takes a very confident man to consistently do things “his way”. It is almost as if he says “what is it that they are expecting me to do? Ok, how can I be different”.

  16. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Having heard/read today’s OF Lectionary Gospel lesson (which coincides with the traditional EF Christmas Vigil lesson), I wonder if the Holy Father was thinking (and even alluding) ahead to it: “nollet eam traducere”. The breadth of ‘traducere’ does not seem to have survived into ‘tradurre’ (at least, in my limited knowledge of Italian) – nor do I know how the verse is translated in Italian Bibles/lectionaries. St. Joseph would seem to take cognizance of something, formulate it to himself, ruminate over it, and decide, at least tentatively, on a course of action (‘tradurre in atto’?), all the while “nollet eam traducere”. If he had discussed it with the village rabbi as he is imagined doing in Zeffirelli’s Jesus of Nazareth, that would presumably have indeed been in keeping with “nollet eam traducere”.

  17. Imrahil says:

    Two points to it where I, alas, am not particularly happy about our Holy Father’s comments.

    This “conscientious objection” in its primary sense means an action which, having born some personal cost for that judgment (it is rare that I can say that), I consider to be one of misinformed conscience at best, and downright and conscious shirking in not too few cases. (“I conscientiously object to crawling in the mud and be shouted at” – of course not told in that way to the draft committee, but to one’s friends yes.)

    As one who counts it among his few achievements to actually have served his obligatory military service, I cannot help to find no particular liking to our Holy Father’s appraisal of conscientious objection.

    To the point itself, I stand firmly by the Catholic morality that counts defamation (a crime in my jurisdiction btw) and “susurration” (if I remember the term correctly; the meaning is enmity-sowing) as sins, and not the least intolerable of sins either (as which we’d rather have to count sins of weakness against moderation).

    Only I find the term “gossip” or “chiacchiere”, or the terms I would translate them into in German are rather vaguely-defined. To me, the word means the same as “chatter”. That may be bad English or bad German or both, but sorry, it is my understanding of language.

    Now that, chatter, is simply sharing of news, which is not even in the precise sense idle (as it does have a deeper sense, viz., the same as smalltalk, namely communication with the one talked to), and which may be charitable or uncharitable just as most actions of men. The most serious objection to it (to chatter that is) is that, if it is done at work, costs work-time. And answer to this objection might be that a normal, charitable boss won’t mind and even see it as strengthening the workplace climate.

    Well, one of the Crosses we have to bear is being preached morality. Being allowed to have personal preferences, though, I’d prefer if the sins were clearly defined and precisely to be avoided.

  18. JonPatrick says:

    RJHighland, all of those serious issues you refer to can be traced to a lack of leadership and a corruption at the highest levels in the Church and cannot be solved unless those who lead in the church are called to a higher level of personal holiness and a focus on God’s will rather than worldly things. Seems to me that dealing with gossip would be a good place to start.

  19. Venerator Sti Lot says:


    Thank you for the thoughtful comment – I had not yet tried to think about the use of the language of ‘conscientious objection’, but will try to, more, now…

    Do you think “Tratsch” is not a good translation of “chiacchiere”, then? Discussing it with someone, an immediate example that sprang to mind was “Tratsch im Treppenhaus” with Heidi Kabel, with “Tratsch” having a fairly negative “gossip” overtone. ‘Sussurrare’ is another Italian word the range and nuance of which I have no good sense (which is equally true of Latin ‘susurrare’, for that matter) – would it have been a more precise choice (for whatever reason nt made)?

  20. cwillia1 says:

    There is harmless speculation. There is spreading information through informal channels. There is spreading information that is confidential. There is speculation that damages the reputation of people or is harmful to an organization in some other way. There is spreading lies. There is spreading truths with an intention to harm.

    It is hard to get at just what Pope Francis is referring to here.

    As to sinning with the tongue, the Psalms seem to be almost obsessed with this, certainly as compared to sexual sin. And then, there is St. James in the New Testament. Jesus says we will account for every idle word we speak.

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