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Pope Francis uses 81st birthday to flag upcoming attack on "fake news"
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Pope Francis uses 81st birthday to flag upcoming attack on "fake news"

Pope Francis has been celebrating his 81st birthday, visiting the maternity and pediatric wards at St. Martha’s Dispensary at the Vatican.

Pope Francis has been celebrating his 81st birthday, visiting the maternity and pediatric wards at St. Martha’s Dispensary at the Vatican.

The children presented him with a cake.

Earlier children from around Rome had packed into St Peter's square to sing "Happy Birthday" to the Pope, but the day was not all about celebration.

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. He insisted  journalists perform a mission that is among the most “fundamental” to democratic societies, and repeated that he considered it a “very serious sin” to fabricate and sensationalise stories.

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