One thing Donald Trump has hammered on time and time again during his presidency is “fake news.” While the president seems to think outlets like CNN and The New York Times are fake news (they’re not — seriously… not even close), the pope is now joining the fight against actual fake news, which spreads dangerously skewed information to promote an agenda, often pro-racism or anti-LGBTQ.
On World Communications Day, Pope Francis released a statement condemning fake news and likening it to the “crafty serpent” in the Bible’s book of Genesis.
“Spreading fake news can serve to advance specific goals, influence political decisions and serve economic interests,” the pope said in his statement, adding that the spread of fake news is enabled by people who read only news sources that confirm their existing biases rather than seek out diverse and challenging information.
“Disinformation thus thrives on the absence of healthy confrontation with other sources of information that could effectively challenge prejudices and generate constructive dialogue; instead, it risks turning people into unwilling accomplices in spreading biased and baseless ideas,” Pope Francis continued.
Unlike the president, Pope Francis also spoke in support of responsible journalism.
“I would like to contribute to our shared commitment to stemming the spread of fake news and to rediscovering the dignity of journalism and the personal responsibility of journalists to communicate the truth,” he said. “Praiseworthy efforts are being made to create educational programs aimed at helping people to interpret and assess information provided by the media, and teaching them to take an active part in unmasking falsehoods, rather than unwittingly contributing to the spread of disinformation.”
During the 2016 presidential election, Pope Francis was a subject of fake news twice when separate publications claimed he had endorsed both Trump and Hillary Clinton for the presidency.