The devil has two main weapons for damaging the Church, Pope Francis says, and his principle weapon is division.
The Pope said this today when he addressed a group of new bishops assigned to mission territories, who are in Rome for a course sponsored by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
After encouraging the bishops to experience God’s mercy as pilgrims so that they can transmit it to their flocks, and to remember to always be close to their priests, the Holy Father had a warning.
“Watch carefully,” he said, “so that all that is put into action for evangelization and the various pastoral activities you promote is not damaged or frustrated by existing divisions or those which can be created. Divisions are the weapon that the devil has most at hand to destroy the Church from within.”
The Pontiff went on to say the devil has two weapons: “but the main one is division, the other is money.”
“The devil enters by the pockets and he destroys with the tongue, with gossip, which divides, and the habit of gossiping is a habit of ‘terrorism,’” he said, using one of his favorite images to describe this sin.
“The gossiper is a ‘terrorist’ that throws the bomb — gossip — to destroy.”
“Please,” the Holy Father exhorted, “fight against divisions, because it is one of the weapons that the devil has to destroy the local Church and the universal Church.”
Noting the particular temptations to division that could arise in these bishops’ work in mission lands, the Pope recognized the challenges in working with various ethnic groups present in the same territory.
Differences among them, he said, “must not penetrate the Christian communities, to the point of prevailing over their good.”
Prayer and penance.
Pope Francis told the bishops they need to pray and to do penance, relying on the grace of God, so that these challenges, though difficult, can be resolved.
“The Church is called to be able to put herself always above tribal-cultural connotations,” he said, “and the bishop, visible principle of unity, has the task to build the particular Church incessantly in the communion of all her members.”