Pope Francis urged the faithful on Sunday to steer clear of gossip, calling it worse than the coronavirus and saying it could be used to divide the Roman Catholic Church.
"Please, brothers and sisters, let's make an effort not to gossip. Gossiping is a worse plague than COVID," the pope said during his weekly address from a window above St. Peter's Square.
"The devil is the great gossip. He is always saying bad things about others because he is the liar who tries to split the Church," Francis added in the off-the-cuff comments.
The pope has regularly warned of the risks of gossiping and has also railed against Internet trolls.
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"If something goes wrong, offer silence and prayer for the brother or sister who make a mistake, but never gossip," he said on Sunday.