Pope Francis delivered a powerful message on Saturday, condemning the dissemination of “disinformation” and the spread of fake news as the primary transgressions of journalism. Speaking to Italian journalists at a Vatican event dedicated to honoring excellence in journalism, the Pope emphasized the critical role of the media in shaping public opinion.
Francis employed the term “sins” to categorize what he viewed as the four major wrongdoings of the media, as per the Vatican’s translated statement of his remarks. These sins include “disinformation,” referring to situations where journalism fails to provide accurate or responsible reporting; “slander,” occasionally used to harm reputations; “defamation,” a distinct offense that can be reputation-ruining; and lastly, “the love of scandal.”
Expressing concern, the Pope highlighted the manipulative efforts of those who strategically propagate fake news to manipulate public sentiment. He called for a renewed sense of responsibility, particularly in the context of Europe grappling with the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. The Pope expressed hope that platforms would prioritize voices advocating for peace and those dedicated to resolving various conflicts.
Despite being 86 years old, Pope Francis has maintained a dynamic engagement with the media since ascending to the leadership of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics in 2013. In stark contrast to his predecessor, Benedict XVI, Pope Francis appears comfortable and expansive in interviews. Notably, earlier this year, a documentary titled “Conversations with the Pope” was released on the Disney+ streaming service, offering a candid glimpse into his frank and open interactions with young adults.