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Our challenge: To become credible witnesses of faith


According to our metrics, the most-read story on in the last week was our recent faith story asking if gossip is still a sin even if you’re telling the truth.

I loved that it was so popular — it shows that we, as human beings seeking to love the Lord, are fallen, and are always, always looking for a loophole.

The long and the short of the Bill Dodds article was: Yes, gossip is a sin, even if it doesn’t involve telling false tales. Loophole closed.

Pope Francis also addressed gossip recently during his general audience series of catecheses on confirmation.

“… Gossip is war,” he said. “This will not do! If we have received the sign of peace with the power of the Holy Spirit, we must be men and women of peace, and not destroy, with the tongue, the peace that the Holy Spirit has created.

“Poor Holy Spirit: the work we give him, with this habit of gossiping,” he went on. “Think carefully: gossip is not the work of the Holy Spirit; it is not the work of unity in the Church. Gossip destroys what God has made. Please: let us stop gossiping!”

It’s far from the first time that Pope Francis has spoken out on the topic of gossip, urging us to think twice before we whisper behind the back of a family member, neighbor or co-worker. Rather, it has been almost a sub-theme of his pontificate.

And, when thought about in conjunction with the authentic Catholic witness that we are to be giving to the wider world, it only makes sense. No one is going to take seriously the faith or beliefs of a person who cannot practice charity and prudence when speaking about other people.

The Georgetown conference on overcoming polarization that I attended recently spent a good amount of time discussing and debating the Church’s “millennial problem.”

Only 17 percent of millennial women attend Mass on a weekly basis. There are many reasons for this that this column is not seeking to address at this time. One thing that was made clear, though, is that millennials are skeptical of institutions and influenced by authenticity. They are, as one expert on the topic said, begging for credible witnesses of faith.

This means you and it means me. And this means saying no to things like gossip. It means avoiding snapping at your husband, your wife or your kids. It means practicing patience and kindness, even if we don’t feel like it. In short, it means living out the Faith in everyday visible ways that show that it is not just an act, but that it actually means something.

These are things Christians should be doing every day as it is — but the stakes are all the higher when we realize how our witness can help attract others to the authenticity and the beauty of our Catholic faith.

So as we turn the calendar into summer, let’s think about the witness we give to the world. Is it what we want it to be? Or can we do better?

Gretchen R. Crowe is editor-in-chief of Our Sunday Visitor. Follow her on Twitter @GretchenOSV.

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