As the Catholic Church celebrates its 52nd World Communications Day, Pope Francis, has charged media practitioners to shun fake news.
He advised them to report news stories that would promote unity and peace of the society.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the 2018 theme of the World Communications Day is “The truth will set you free, taken from Jn 8:32 with a sub – theme: “Fake news and journalism for peace”.
The pontiff’s message which served as homily during mass on Sunday at the Holy Ghost Catholic Parish, Makurdi.
It was read by the Parish Priest, Rev Fr. Moses Iorapuu.
Iorapuu said that the pope’s message, condemned irresponsible journalism that ” seeks to divide society and creates acrimony amongst people and prefers journalism that upholds the virtues of society”.
Francis said that journalism should be used positively to build society rather than destroy it.
He regretted that most media practitioners deliberately distorted information to achieve personal gains and called on all people’s to resist such fake news.
He said: “Yet, preventing and identifying the way disinformation works also calls for a profound and careful process of discernment.
“We need to unmask what could be called the “snake-tactics” used by those who disguise themselves in order to strike at any time and place.
“This was the strategy employed by the “crafty serpent” in the Book of Genesis, who, at the dawn of humanity, created the first fake news (Gen 3:1-15).
“This began the tragic history of human sin, beginning with the first fratricide found in Gen: 4 and issuing in the countless other evils committed against God, neighbour, society and creation.
“The strategy of this skilled “Father of Lies” (Jn 8:44) is precisely mimicry, that sly and dangerous form of seduction that worms its way into the heart with false and alluring arguments.”
The Pope, therefore, called on all media practitioners to “seek the truth which will set them free” from the pangs of fake news.
Francis also warned against the use of derogatory and
deceptive language which he said “can darken our interior life”.
He said peace “is the true news” and called on media practitioners to strive at maintaining peace even while reporting sensational issues.
NAN reports that the first Word Communication Day was marked in 1967 by Pope Paul VI.