Francis announced it himself in a tweet to his nearly 40 million followers on Friday, saying the theme of his message for the Roman Catholic Church’s next World Day of Social Communications will be “The truth will set you free. Fake news and journalism for peace.”
In Latin, one of the nine languages the pope uses to tweet, that would be “Veritas liberavit vos. Nuntii fallaces et diurniariorum opus ad pacem.”
A Vatican statement said the issue was important enough for the pope to address because “fake news contributes to generating and nurturing a strong polarization of opinions.”
A distortion of facts, it said, can have “repercussions at the level of individual and collective behavior.”
Francis said in an interview last year that media that focus on scandals and spread fake news to smear politicians risk becoming like people who have a morbid fascination with excrement.
The Vatican statement said the leader of the 1.2 billion member Church wanted to offer “a reflection on the causes, the logic and the consequences of disinformation in the media, and helping to promote professional journalism, which always seeks the truth.”
The Church’s World Day of Social Communications is celebrated on January 24, feast of St. Francis de Sales, the patron of journalists.
The message is usually released several weeks before. (Reporting By Philip Pullella)