Pope Francis told members of the Catholic media over the weekend that peddling in “fake news” constitutes a “grave sin that hurts the heart of the journalist and hurts others.”
“You shouldn’t fall into the ‘sins of communication’ disinformation, or giving just one side, calumny that is sensationalised, or defamation,” the Pope said, according to The Associated Press.
Francis, who has enjoyed relatively glowing press from the world’s more progressive journalists due to his seemingly unorthodox emphasis on left-wing issues such as income inequality, open borders and climate change, reminded journos that reporting precise, complete, and correct information rather than biased reports was a mission that is among the most “fundamental” to democratic societies.
It also appeared that the Pope waded into the recent trend of reporting decades-old incidents of sexual misconduct that has occupied the American media beginning with the Harvey Weinstein revelations and reached the level of political frenzy in the context of the failed Alabama Senate campaign of Republican Roy Moore. He said it “looking for things that are old news and have been dealt with and bringing them to light today,” constituted a “very serious sin.”
It is not yet clear whether Catholic Churches in Washington DC and Manhattan will be open for confession for any journalists who claim to be Catholic and might want to cleanse their souls in light of the pontiff’s proclamations. We’ll be monitoring the confessionals just in case… but we’re not holding our breath.