A new challenger has entered the fray in the battle over fake news: God. Or rather, God’s messenger on Earth, Pope Francis, leader of the Catholic Church. In a new message marking World Communications Day, the Pope denounced “fake news,” which he himself has been a victim of. In maybe the most famous example from the 2016 election, it was falsely reported that Pope Francis had endorsed Donald Trump, a break from papal tradition.
“The difficulty of unmasking and eliminating fake news is due also to the fact that many people interact in homogeneous digital environments impervious to differing perspectives and opinions,” His Holiness states. “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.”
Long before Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook became the most well-known purveyor of fake news, there was the snake who tricked Eve into biting the apple. Again, Papa Francesco:
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 (cf. Gen 3:1-15), which began the tragic history of human sin, beginning with the first fratricide (cf. 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.
Fake news: the work of the devil. The pope ended his message by inviting everyone to promote a “journalism of peace,” which is “truthful and opposed to falsehoods, rhetorical slogans, and sensational headlines.” And with that, all of the fake news in the world vanished, and everybody stopped lying.