Pope Francis released his message for commemorating the 52nd World Communications Day being observed May 13, 2018. This year’s theme of the Pope’s message is “The truth will set you free”(Jn 8:32). Fake news and journalism for peace.”
In his message the Pope highlights how important communication is in God’s plan for us and that it is an essential way for us to experience fellowship. It allows us to express and share all that is true, good and beautiful. It allows us to share our human experience, our good times, our challenging times and our understanding of the events of the world around us.
But he also discusses how we must be careful and discerning in the types of communications that we are exposed to in this fast-changing digital age in which we live. When people with personal, political, organizational or governmental agendas use the media either distort or completely ignore the truth, the implications can be far reaching, divisive and extremely destructive.
In his message the Pope discusses the topic of “fake news” and how it is designed to seem plausible by playing on our typical stereotypes, our common social prejudices, our fears and emotions such as anger, contempt, anxiety and frustration.
He compares “fake news” as the modern-day equivalent of the serpent in the Adam and Eve story where the snake poses as Eve’s friend.
Pope Francis reminds us the biggest weapon against “fake news” and deceptive communicative practices it the “truth”. In all our communications we should be seeking the truth. How can we discern the truth? The Pope gives us these clues. “We can recognize the truth of statements from their fruits: whether they provoke quarrels, foment division, encourage resignation; or, on the other hand, they promote informed and mature reflection leading to constructive dialogue and fruitful results.”