Pope praises Catholic group combating COVID-19 misinformation

Pope combating misinformation

The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked an “infodemic,” Pope Francis said during a meeting where he praised a Catholic media group combating vaccine misinformation.

Francis also denounced fake news about COVID-19 and vaccines on Jan 28, but he also urged that people who believe such mistruths are helped to understand real scientific facts.

“We can hardly fail to see that these days, in addition to the pandemic, an ‘infodemic’ is spreading: a distortion of reality based on fear, which in our global society leads to an explosion of commentary on falsified if not invented news,” Francis said.

Francis has been a consistent proponent of COVID-19 vaccines and advocated for their equitable distribution. He said that “to be properly informed, to be helped to understand situations based on scientific data and not fake news, is a human right.”

His remarks came during a meeting with representatives of Catholic Factchecking – a consortium of various Catholic media outlets launched in March 2021 seeking to counter misleading claims about COVID-19 vaccines.

“Pope Francis, the Holy See and bishops’ conferences from around the world have spoken out about the importance to get vaccinated to respect not only one’s own life, but also that of others,” the group states on its website.

Francis was happy to give the group his seal of approval.

“At a time when we are feeling the effects of the pandemic and of divisions in society, the fact that you are networking as Christian communicators is itself sending a message,” he said.

“Correct information must be ensured above all to those who are less equipped, to the weakest and to those who are most vulnerable,” the pope continued.

Francis asked for a merciful, missionary approach to those who fall prey to misinformation, so they can be helped to understand the truth.

“Fake news has to be refuted, but individual persons must always be respected, for they believe it often without full awareness or responsibility,” he said.

“Reality is always more complex than we think. We must respect the doubts, the concerns and the questions that people raise, seeking to accompany them without ever dismissing them.”


Religion News Service

National Catholic Reporter

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News category: World.

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