November 21, 2016

Pope Francis on “the terrorism of slander”


Encyclical on Climate Change & Inequality

Pope Francis has taken on climate change, inequality, and now what he calls the terrorism of slander. “The tongue can be full of lethal poison. It is a form of terrorism that is hard to curb.”

Melville House author Pope Francis recently gave an interview to a Swedish newspaper, in which he talked at length about what he has come to call “the terrorism of slander.” Ulf Jonsson of Dagens Nyheter notes that most of his comments have circled around the Italian press, “often accused of populism and for stoking up bad feelings between different groups in society.” And, well, I think you see where I’m going here.

Well, it is a more mental and intangible form of terrorism, a vice that is hard to eradicate. I describe slander and the spreading of false rumours as an aspect of terrorism because it is a form of severe violence against others.

– We all have in us the capacity to smear other peoples character. It is a vice that can only be eradicated through a deep change of mind, a conversion.

– The problem with this vice is that all of us, every human being, are capable of turning into a terrorist simply by just abusing language. You see, I am not speaking here about fighting a battle as in a war. I am speaking of a deceitful and hidden form of terrorism that uses words as bombs that explode causing devastation in peoples lives. It is a sort of criminality and the root of it is original sin. It is a way of creating space for yourself by destroying others.

– It needs a profound transformation of the heart to defeat this temptation. One must search ones soul thoroughly in this matter. The sword kills many people, but the tongue kills many more. In the third chapter of the letter from the apostle James it says: The tongue is a small organ able to set fire to an entire forest. It can be a fire of evil that burns down our life. The tongue can be full of lethal poison. It is a form of terrorism that is hard to curb.




Julia Fleischaker is a former director of marketing and publicity at Melville House.