What does Pope Francis say when he visits an ordinary parish in Rome?
To be a Christian, first of all, is to give witness of Jesus. – This is the first thing. And this is what the Apostles did: the Apostles gave witness of Jesus, and because of this Christianity spread throughout the world. Witness and martyrdom: they are the same thing. One gives witness in little things, and some in great things, they give their life in martyrdom, as the Apostles did. But note the Apostles did not take a course to become witnesses of Jesus; they didn’t study, they didn’t go to university. They felt the Spirit within and followed the inspiration of the Holy Spirit; they were faithful to this, but also they were all sinners! The Twelve were sinners. “You may say: No, Father, only Judas!” No, poor man. We don’t know what happened to him after his death, because God’s mercy was there also at that moment. No, they were all sinners, all of them. There was jealousy between them. “No, I must occupy the first place and you the second”; and two of them spoke to their mother, asking her to go to speak to Jesus to give the first place to her sons. They were like this, with all their sins. They were also traitors, because when Jesus was seized, they all fled, full of fear; they hid themselves, they were afraid. And Peter, who knew he was the head, felt the need to get somewhat closer to see what was happening. And when the priest’s servant said: “But you also are his follower”, he said: “No, no, no!” He denied Jesus, betrayed Jesus. Peter, the first Pope betrayed Jesus! And these were the witnesses! Yes, because they were witnesses of the salvation that Jesus brings and all because of this salvation, were converted, they let themselves be saved. It was good when, on the shore of the Lake, Peter said: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” To be a witness does not mean to be a saint, but to be a poor man, a poor woman who says: “Yes, I’m a sinner, but Jesus is the Lord and I give witness of Him, and I try to do good every day, to correct my life, to go on the right way.”
He later added: On this day of my visit, I would like this community to make the resolution not to gossip. And when you get the desire to gossip, bite your tongue: it will swell, but it will do you so much good. Never gossip about one another. A parish where there is no gossip is a perfect parish; it is a parish of sinners, yes, but also of witnesses. And this is the witness that the first Christians gave: “How they love one another, how they love each other!” Love one another at least in this. Begin with this. May the Lord give you this gift, this grace — never, never talk about one another.