ROME, Italy (The Adobo Chronicles, The Vatican Bureau) – Journalism based on gossip or rumors is a form of “terrorism” and media that stereotype entire populations or foment fear of migrants are acting destructively, Pope Francis said on Thursday.
Francis, who made his comments in an address to leaders of Italy’s national journalists’ guild, said reporters had to go the extra mile to seek the truth, particularly in an age of round-the-clock news coverage.
Spreading rumors is an example of “terrorism, of how you can kill a person with your tongue”, he said. “This is even more true for journalists because their voice can reach everyone and this is a very powerful weapon.”
In Italy, a number of newspapers are highly politicized and are regularly used to discredit those with differing political views, sometimes reporting unsubstantiated rumors about their private lives.
The Adobo Chronicles also learned that Francis sent a strongly-worded letter to Rappler, Vera Files and other foreign-funded journalism organizations, saying that based on information reaching The Vatican, the groups’ brand of journalism is precisely a form of terrorism.
In the letter, sent through the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, Francis admonished the groups for weaponizing the media to destabilize the duly-constituted government of the Philippines. The pope particularly mentioned Rappler for constantly accusing the government of “suppression of press freedom” as a scapegoat for its (and CEO Maria Ressa’s) violations of Philippine law.
Ressa and Rappler face several criminal cases involving tax evasion, cyber libel and violation of the Constitutional prohibition on foreign ownership of Philippine media.
CBCP has asked all Catholic churches across the country to read the Pope’s letter today, in lieu of the usual Sunday homily.