Pope denounces “fake news” in World Communications Day message

In his message for World Communications Day 2018, Pope Francis has dedicated this year to “fake news and journalism for peace.”

He denounced “fake news” as evil, comparing it to the serpent in the Garden of Eden - and urged journalists to make it their mission to search for the truth.

As is the custom, this message was released on January 24, the feast day of St Francis de Sales who is  the patron saint of journalists.

The Pope said fake news played on stereotypes and prejudices - and praised efforts to make social media users aware of false reports.

He said the first fake news dated back to the biblical beginning of time, when Eve was tempted to take an apple from the Garden of Eden based on misinformation from a 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,” he said of the snake.

He called for a shared commitment to rediscovering the “dignity of journalism” and for reporters to speak the truth: “In today’s world, the work of journalists is, in every sense, not just a job; it is a mission,” the Pope said.

“Amid feeding frenzies and the mad rush for a scoop, they must remember that the heart of information is not the speed with which it is reported or its audience impact, but persons.

“Informing others means forming others; it means being in touch with people’s lives,” he continued.

“That is why ensuring the accuracy of sources and protecting communication are real means of promoting goodness, generating trust, and opening the way to communion and peace.”

World Communications Day will be celebrated this year on May 13, the Feast of the Ascension.

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