09/06/2020, 14.07
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Pope on fraternal correction, Jesus’s pedagogy of rehabilitation

During the Angelus, Pope Francis warned Christians against “gossip”. He notes that “The chatterbox is the devil because he is the liar who tries to divide the Church". Fraternal correction according to Jesus addresses two concerns, a communal one, “safeguarding communion, that is Church unity, and a personal one, which requires attention and respect for every individual conscience.”

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – In today’s Angelus, Pope Francis spoke to the faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square, explaining that Jesus always rehabilitates and does not condemn those who make mistakes.

In his address, the pontiff noted that even among the brothers and sisters of a community, it is necessary to show “greater love to rehabilitate the brother.” What must be excluded is “gossip,” talking behind other people’s back, slander, which “divide the Church".

Commenting on today’s Gospel (23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A, Mt 18: 15-20), Francis stressed that the topic Jesus spoke about, that of fraternal correction, raises two concerns, a communal one, i.e. "safeguarding communion, that is Church unity, and a personal one, which requires attention and respect for every individual conscience.”

Jesus’s pedagogy "of rehabilitation” towards "the brother who did wrong” comes in three steps. First of all, there is a personal encounter (‘go and tell him his fault between you and him alone,’ Mt 18: 15).

If the correction fails, the second step is to introduce yourself to him by taking “one or two others along with you”. The “two witnesses are required not to accuse and judge, but to help. In fact, Jesus takes into account that this approach with witnesses could also fail, unlike the Mosaic law for which the testimony of two or three was sufficient for censure.”

Finally, the third step is to "tell the community". As Jesus put it, “If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector” (Mt 18: 17).

“This statement, apparently so scornful, in reality invites us to place our brother in God's hands; only the Father can show a love greater than that of all the brothers put together.”

Speaking without his written text, Francis noted that “Jesus’s teaching helps us a lot. . . Usually the first thing we do when we see someone making a mistake is to go and tell others about it, to gossip . . . The chatterbox is the devil because he is the liar who tries to divide the Church. Please, let’s make an effort not to gossip. Gossip is a disease that is worse than COVID.”

The pontiff went on to say: “It is the love of Jesus, who welcomed tax collectors and Gentiles, who scandalised the self-righteous of the time. It is therefore not a question of a condemnation without appeal, but a recognition that at times our human attempts can fail, and that only by being alone before God can the brother face his own conscience and take responsibility for his own acts.”

“May the Virgin Mary help us make fraternal correction a healthy habit, so that we can always establish new fraternal relationships in our communities, based on mutual forgiveness and above all on the invincible power of God's mercy.”

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