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Verify before sharing 'news,' pope says in Communications Day message

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VATICAN CITY — In the age of instant communications and fake news, journalists — like everyone else — need to recover the practice of going out and verifying information before they share it, Pope Francis said.

 

" 'Come and see' is the simplest method to get to know a situation. It is the most honest test of every message, because, in order to know, we need to encounter, to let the person in front of me speak, to let his or her testimony reach me," the pope wrote in his message for the Catholic Church's celebration of World Communications Day. The message was released Jan. 23, the eve of the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of journalists.

 

At the Vatican and in most countries, World Communications Day will be celebrated May 16. The pope paid homage to journalists who have risked their lives going into the field to cover, verify and share stories the world needed to know, especially "about the hardships endured by persecuted minorities in various parts of the world, numerous cases of oppression and injustice inflicted on the poor and on the environment, and many wars that otherwise would be overlooked." But he also railed against those who report or share information that has not been verified and that has no basis in fact. "We have known for some time that news and even images can be easily manipulated for any number of reasons, at times simply for sheer narcissism," he said.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021