Pope Francis to deliver message decrying ‘fake news’

Pope Francis is preparing an address on “fake news” expected to tackle the thorny issue of journalistic integrity in a speech marking World Communications Day.

Francis announced his choice of topic in September, saying the message would be delivered on Wednesday (Jan. 24) — the Catholic feast day of Francis de Sales, patron saint of journalists.

According to a Vatican news release in September, the pope’s address is expected to promote “professional journalism” over and against “fake news.” The term, made famous by President Trump, was defined by the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communication as “baseless information that contributes to generating and nurturing a strong polarization of opinions.”

The pontiff has some personal experience with fake news. During the 2016 election, a satirical news website claimed that Francis endorsed Trump for president. The story was patently false, but became one of the most widely circulated fake news stories on Facebook in the lead-up to the election, according to BuzzFeed.

Francis has railed against “fake news” and misleading reporting in the past. During a meeting with journalists at the Vatican in December, he urged reporters not to fall prey to “sins of communication.”

 

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