The Pope also said that the devil is a gossiper who aims to divide the Catholic Church.
“Gossip closes the heart of the community, closes the unity of the Church,” he said.
“The greatest talker is the devil, who always goes about saying the bad things of others, because he is the liar who tries to disunite the Church, to alienate his brothers and not to make community.”
“Please, brothers and sisters, we make an effort not to gossip. Gossip is a plague worse than Covid,” he added.
It’s not the first time Francis has made such strong remarks on gossip – in 2016, he warned priests and nuns not to fuel the “terrorism of gossip,” encouraging them to resist the temptation to spread voices and tales within their community.
“If you get an urge to say something against a brother or a sister, to drop a gossip bomb, bite your tongue! Hard!” he said.
He returned to the topic in November 2018, telling pilgrims in St Peter’s Square that gossip kills “because the tongue kills, like a knife,” according to a statement released at the time by Vatican News, the Holy See’s official press website.
The pandemic radically changed the way the Vatican operates, forcing the Pope to celebrating Palm Sunday mass in an empty church. After months of lockdown, worshipers returned to St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City at the end of May.
The Pope held his first public audience since the pandemic began on Wednesday and used the event to call for solidarity in battling Covid-19.