Pope Francis joins fight vs fake news

Erik Tenedero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 29 2017 10:18 PM

The term "fake news" has officially made its way to the Vatican. 

This, after Pope Francis has chosen the issue of fake news (nunti fallaces in Latin) as the focus of next year's World Communication Day. 

The pope personally announced the topic for next year's worldwide celebration through his Twitter account, which currently has 13.7 million followers.

According to Pope Francis, the 2018 World Communications Day, which is observed on a Sunday before Pentecost, will tackle the harmful effects of fake news against the backdrop of journalism for peace. 

Fake news has been a hot topic in the political arena across the world, including the Philippines. 

In the Senate, a bill has been filed against fake news. The proposed measure seeks to impose stiffer penalties on those who will spread false news or information. 

Fake news that spread through Facebook also allegedly influenced the recent U.S. presidential elections.

Pope Francis previously spoke about the dangers of fake news and even warned the media against it. 

In 2016, in an interview with the Belgian Catholic weekly "Tertio", the pope warned that disinformation was "probably the greatest damage that the media can do." He also compared fake news consumption to eating feces. 

The Vatican's Secretariat for Communication said the pope's decision echoes the Catholic Church's desire to "offer a contribution, proposing a reflection on the causes, the logic and the consequences of disinformation in the media" as other key institutions seek to eradicate fake news. 

The Vatican said the pope also wanted to promote professional journalism which "always seeks the truth, and therefore a journalism of peace that promotes understanding between people."

Francis's official message for the World Day of Social Communications will be published on January 24, the feast of Saint Francis de Sales, patron of journalists.