Pope Francis has probably made more forays into issues that are not strictly religious than any other Pope in Catholicism’s history.
From meeting with Mark Zuckerberg to discuss how social media could bridge social gaps, condemning the silence on African conflicts to even expressing fondness for beauty vloggers, no topic seems to be too far fetched for the Pope and on Thursday last week, Pope Francis set his sights on irresponsible journalism.
Irresponsible journalism is easy to stumble across in this social age where a wider net of people have a platform to share information with the public. In castigating irresponsible journalism, the pope was referring to journalism that is based gossip or rumors rather than facts and evidence.
Pope Francis said that such journalism is a form of “terrorism”. He also said that any media that stereotypes entire populations or engenders fear of migrants are acting destructively.
Pope Francis made these comments in his address to leaders of Italy’s national journalists’ guild. He encouraged reporters to go the extra mile to seek the truth, particularly in an age of round-the-clock news coverage.
According to the Pope, spreading rumors is tantamount to “terrorism, of how you can kill a person with your tongue” and “This is even more true for journalists because their voice can reach everyone and this is a very powerful weapon.”
Journalists in Italy would be a perfect crowd to receive the Pope’s message considering a number of newspapers in the country are highly politicized and are regularly used to discredit those with differing political views. This sees the newspapers sometimes resorting to reports on unsubstantiated rumors about people’s private lives.
Pope Francis has become a known defender of refugees and migrants, and his plea that journalism should not be used as a “weapon of destruction against persons and even entire peoples” and “Neither should it foment fear before events like forced migration from war or from hunger,” further casts him in that light.