'In a strongly worded warning, Pope Francis decried gossip as a form of “terrorism” which ruins reputations, and said that fake news is a modern day scourge of the church faithful.
During his Wednesday address to the general public in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope explored the eighth commandment, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”
“We all live by communicating, and we are continuously on the edge between truth and lies,” Francis said, adding that misinformation is inherently dangerous “because the tongue kills like a knife.”
The media-savvy pontiff is known for using hyperbolic speech to emphasize a point, and potentially steal a few headlines in the process, especially as his church is beset with a growing number of child sex abuse scandals.
He went one step further on Wednesday in reiterating previous remarks in which he equated gossipers and liars to terrorists: “Gossipers are terrorists because with their tongues they drop a bomb and then leave, and the bomb they drop destroys reputations everywhere.”
“Don’t forget: to gossip is to kill,” the pope warned.
From South America, to the US, and across Europe, more and more abuse survivors are coming forward, forcing the church to pay over $4 billion in compensation worldwide.
The Pope tweeted later on Wednesday that Jesus requires absolute, unwavering faith and that loving Jesus is a case of “all or nothing” for Catholics around the world.
Read more: ‘The tongue kills like a knife’: Pope Francis equates gossiping with terrorism