Catholic Churches, last Sunday, reported in their bulletins Francis’ criticism of “Fake News” made Jan. 24 on World Communications Day.
“. . .when we yield to our own pride and selfishness, we can also distort the way we use our ability to communicate,” Francis said. “This can be seen from the earliest times, in the biblical stories of Cain and Abel and the Tower of Babel . The capacity to twist the truth is symptomatic of our condition, both as individuals and communities.”
Note this was one week after a certain other world leader gave out awards for “fake news”.
Francis defined “fake news” as “the spreading of disinformation on line or in the traditional media.”
“It has to do with false information based on non-existent or distorted data meant to deceive and manipulate the reader,” he said. “Spreading fake news can serve to advance specific goals, influence political decisions, and serve economic interests.”
So how do we defend ourselves?
“The most radical antidote to the virus of falsehood is purification by the truth,” Francis said.
He noted that “The truth is not just bringing to light things that are concealed, “revealing reality”, as the ancient Greek term aletheia (from a-lethès, “not hidden”) might lead us to believe (but) involves our whole life. ”
He said “Truth is something you can lean on, so as not to fall. In this relational sense, the only truly reliable and trustworthy One – the One on whom we can count – is the living God. Hence, Jesus can say: ‘I am the truth’. We discover and rediscover the truth when we experience it within ourselves in the loyalty and trustworthiness of the One who loves us. This alone can liberate us: ‘The truth will set you free'”.
He advocated that all participate in a “journalism of peace”.
“By that, I do not mean the saccharine kind of journalism that refuses to acknowledge the existence of serious problems or smacks of sentimentalism,” he said. “On the contrary, I mean a journalism that is truthful and opposed to falsehoods, rhetorical slogans, and sensational headlines. A journalism created by people for people, one that is at the service of all, especially those – and they are the majority in our world – who have no voice. A journalism less concentrated on breaking news than on exploring the underlying causes of conflicts, in order to promote deeper understanding and contribute to their resolution by setting in place virtuous processes. A journalism committed to pointing out alternatives to the escalation of shouting matches and verbal violence.”
So American journalists, this means when you learned powerful forces in federal law enforcement are conspiring with one candidate to win an election, you report it. And not just report it, report it with appropriate outrage.
This means when rich connected types are forcing those without much disposable income to pay for their lifestyles, you, well “afflict the comfortable” even if you had been led to believe they are part of a “progressive” future.
This means you point out that certain behavior is damningly destructive even if it is unfashionable to do so.
World Communications Day was Jan. 24 because it is the feast day of Saint Francis de Sales, the patron saint of journalists.
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