Pope Francis said gossiping nuns are like terrorists

By Robert Frank Gabriel (Flickr: Nun Deep in Prayer) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Peruvians were not amused

The Lima stopover of Pope Francis saw his audience witness a seemingly moderate pontiff comparing nuns who gossip with terrorists . Even though the nuns laughed, the pope was serious about what he said. There is nothing new in what he said. It was, however, the first time the pope has termed people who gossip as terrorists. He previously has said gossip is akin to terrorism. His audience was 500 cloistered nuns. The venue was the noted Church of the Nazarenas, a construction itself of historical value.

Special permission was given to the nuns to leave their respective convents, so they can see him. These nuns are termed “contemplatives.” They generally live a life full of prayer. The nuns do not leave the convents where they stay. The only exception is for medical reasons. The pope said that seeing all the nuns in the venue put the idea in his mind they have left the convent only to take a stroll. Many nuns were elderly personages. While he was interacting with the Lima nuns, he sent his long-distance greetings to the four nuns cloistered in Buenos Aires, his native place.

To justify his claim, Pope Francis referred to gossip as a kind of bomb. A bomber throws the grenade and goes away. The bomber remains safe, but the bomb wreaks destruction. He asked the nuns to bite their tongue when they have the urge to gossip. The Pontiff forbid them to gossip inside the convent as these loose words favor the devil.

Francis drew laughter from the nun majority crowd when he said that nuns who gossip are worse compared to “terrorists of Ayacucho.” The place is intimately linked to Peru's violent history with the Shining Path guerillas. The guerillas were hardline Maoist groups engaged in insurgent activities against the Peruvian Government. The bloodshed occurred during the 1980s and the 1990s. Thousands of Peruvians lost their lives during that period.

A few Peruvians criticized the pope for his terrorist label. They found it distasteful that a pope can compare nuns' gossip to terrorism. The mistake was compounded in their eyes as the pope was on a pastoral trip to unify the South American country. They termed the pope's comments as disrespectful or insensitive in their social media comments. An online newspaper editor said that it was his belief that sex abuse by priests is more of a terrorist act compared to gossiping nuns.

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