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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Help unmask fake, destructive news, pope tells journalists

Catholic journalists need to be able to distinguish good from evil and recognise how their words can shape the world, not just describe what has happened, Pope Francis said.

Reporters also can help “unmask words that are false and destructive,” but they must make sure their sources are credible while offering the correct context, interpretation and importance of events, he said during an audience with members of the Italian Catholic press on 23rd September.

The pope made similar appeals earlier in the day when speaking with members of the Vatican’s own media department, the Dicastery for Communication, which was holding its plenary assembly.

The Vatican department’s work in communication, he told them, must never be promotional or driven by the desire to have a bigger audience, nor must employees be tempted into feeling defeated and defensive against the wider culture.

During his audience with members of the Italian Catholic Union of the Press, which was celebrating its 60th anniversary, the pope urged the journalists to be “the voice of the conscience of a journalism capable of distinguishing good from evil, humane choices from inhumane ones,” because the two sides are hard to differentiate today as they are all mixed up in “a hodgepodge.”

Journalists are called to reconstruct the facts, “work toward social cohesion (and) to tell the truth at all costs” in a way that is respectful and never arrogant, he said.

Picture: Pope Francis poses during a meeting with members of the Italian Catholic Union of the Press at the Vatican’s apostolic palace on 23rd September 2019. Journalists need to be able to distinguish good from evil and see how their reporting can actually shape the world, not just describe what has happened, Pope Francis said. Reporters can also help “unmask words that are false and destructive,” and make sure their sources are credible, he added. (CNS photo/Vatican Media).