Pope Francis has trained his sights on the phenomenon of fake news and and has made it the centerpiece of the Catholic Church’s 2018 World Communications Day.
The pontiff announced the theme via Twitter on Friday.
“I have chosen this theme for World Communications Day 2018: “The truth will set you free” (Jn 8:32). Fake news and journalism for peace,” he said.
I have chosen this theme for World Communications Day 2018: “The truth will set you free” (Jn 8:32). Fake news and journalism for peace.
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) September 29, 2017
The Vatican said in a statement that Pope Francis will focus on the harmful effects of fake news in his message which will be released on January 24 next year. The feast will be observed later in the year on May 13.
The Vatican’s Secretariat for Communication said false information creates and fuels the polarization of opinions.
It said fake news can have “repercussions at the level of individual and collective behaviour.”
“The Church would like make its contribution by proposing a reflection on the causes, logic and consequences of misinformation in the media,” the statement added.
This isn’t the first time Francis has offered his thoughts on fake news. In an interview with the Belgian Catholic publication Tertio last year, the pope said those who consumed misinformation were eating excrement.
“No-one has a right to do this. It is a sin and it is hurtful,” he said. “I think the media have to be very clear, very transparent, and not fall into – no offence intended – the sickness of coprophilia, that is, always wanting to cover scandals, covering nasty things, even if they are true.”