Pope Francis has once again become a guiding beacon of light to Christians as he shared some tips to avoid speaking ill of others.
Reflecting on the gospel according to Matthew—in which Jesus speaks about fraternal correction—Pope Francis invited everyone to consider two dimensions of the Christian life.
The first dimension is the communitarian—it demands us to safeguard communion. While the second one is the personal—it obliges us to give attention and respect for every individual conscience. (Read: 5 Powerful Prayers for the Church)
As he echoed the word of Jesus Christ, Pope Francis offered three steps to correcting another person’s wrongdoing.
Step 1: Discretely Admonish
Pope Francis says that whenever a person has done something that is against the will of the Lord, one should discretely admonish him. This act is “not to judge him, but to help him realize what he has done.” (Read: Rekindling Old Ties: How You Can Reach Out To a Friend)
The Pope, however, has warned that this may not be easy to do, as the other person may react badly to your actions.
Step 2: Get Help
If the person has not repented for his wrongdoing, Jesus said to seek out the help of others who might be able to correct them. This is not to condemn, accuse, or judge the wrongdoer, but to help him repent.
Step 3: Let the Church Intervene
The third step to take when someone continues to make mistakes is to let the Church community know. “There are things that can have an impact on other brothers and sisters: it takes a greater love to rehabilitate the brother,” Pope Francis says. (Read: If Pope Francis can go to confession, so can you!)
When All Else Fails…
Pope Francis emphasized that there are moments when this communitarian intervention fails. In such cases, Jesus said to treat the person “as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.”
This drastic measure puts the matter in God’s hands. Pope Francis says that this is not to rebuke the person, but to recognize that “only the Father will be able to show greater love than that of all brothers and sisters put together.”
No to Gossip
Pope Francis also reminded everyone to refrain from gossiping when another person commits a wrongdoing. “When we see a brother or sister make a mistake or with a defect, the first thing we do is to tell others about it. We gossip,” he says. (Read: Let St. Monica teach you how to deal with ‘pasaway’ loved ones)
“Please, brothers and sisters, let us make an effort not to gossip,” added the Pope, saying that it is gossip that closes a person’s heart to the community and therefore hurts the Church’s unity. “Chatter is a plague more awful than COVID!”