Pope Francis is denouncing “fake news” as evil and is urging journalists to make it their mission to search for the truth.
After a week in which Francis faced unprecedented bad press during his South American tour, the pope released his annual social communications message Wednesday dedicated this year to “fake news and journalism for peace.”
Francis writes that the first fake news dates from the Biblical beginning of time, when Eve was tempted to take an apple from the Garden of Eden based on disinformation from the serpent.
“The strategy of this skilled ‘Father of Lies’ is precisely mimicry, that sly and dangerous form of seduction that worms its way into the heart with false and alluring arguments,” Francis said of the snake.
In today’s fast-paced information age, he called for a shared commitment to rediscovering the “dignity of journalism” and for reporters to speak the truth with a journalism that is “truthful and opposed to falsehoods, rhetorical slogans, and sensational headlines.”
Francis has frequently railed about journalists, and before he became pope was known for his frosty relations with the Argentine media. Just this week, while chatting with reporters aboard the papal plane, he admitted he hated giving interviews and joked, “And look at the job God gave me now.”
Since becoming pope, Francis has learned to use the media to get his message across, but he still frequently complains about what he considers one-sided reporting and what he has dubbed the “sins of the media: disinformation, slander and defamation.”