Pope Francis has condemned the spread of fake news as a “very serious sin’. Speaking from the Vatican as he celebrated his 81st birthday, the Pontiff urged journalists not to practice disinformation or deformation, calling the profession “fundamental” to democratic societies.
He called on reporters to avoid one-sided reports and not to drag up earlier scandals. It comes amid a host of allegations of sexual misconduct within the Catholic Church. Days earlier, an Australian inquiry into child abuse uncovered “serious failings” across mainly Catholic institutions.
It comes ahead of his annual communications message, which Francis has promised this year will be centred on what he calls the evils of fake news, he gave a taste of its contents to assembled journalists.
“You shouldn’t fall into the ‘sins of communication:’ disinformation, or giving just one side, calumny that is sensationalised, or defamation, looking for things that are old news and have been dealt with and bringing them to light today," he said to Catholic media.
Any such actions were a “grave sin that hurts the heart of the journalist and hurts others”, he warned.