POPE FRANCIS urged Catholics and social communication ministries to be wary of misinformation and to verify before sharing information in his message for the 55th World Communication Day.

“[The Internet] is a powerful tool, which demands that all of us be responsible as users and consumers,” the Pope said.

“All of us are responsible for the communications we make, the information we share and the control that we can exert over fake news by exposing it. All of us are to be witnesses of the truth: to go, to see and to share,” he added.

The Pope emphasized that communicating in person was irreplaceable for “some things can only be learned through first-hand experience.”

“‘Come and see’ is the simplest method to get to know a situation. It is the most honest test of every message, because, in order to know, we need to encounter, to let the person in front of me speak, to let his or her testimony reach me,” he said.

The Pope also stressed the importance of obtaining facts and scrutinizing false claims.

“We have known for some time that news and even images can be easily manipulated. [A]ll of us are responsible for the communications we make, for the information we share and for the control that we can exert over fake news by exposing it,” he said.

Journalists are windows to social justice

The Pontiff called on journalists to engage more in investigative reporting and steer clear from simply repeating “standard, often tendentious” narratives.

Media consumers, he added, should do away with being “mere spectators” of news in social networks.

“Any instrument proves useful and valuable only to the extent that it motivates us to go out and see things that otherwise we would not know about, to post on the internet news that would not be available elsewhere, to allow for encounters that otherwise would never happen,” he said.

The Pontiff recognized the integrity and dedication of journalists who put their lives on the line to cover and share news all over the world and pave a way for human justice to thrive.

“We owe a word of gratitude for the courage and commitment of journalists, camera operators, editors, directors. Thanks to their efforts, we now know about the hardships endured by persecuted minorities in various parts of the world, numerous cases of oppression and injustice inflicted on the poor and on the environment, and many wars that otherwise would be overlooked,” he said.

He stressed that journalism urges the public to view different perspectives with “curiosity, openness [and] passion.”

“Journalism too, as an account of reality, calls for an ability to go where no one else thinks of going: a readiness to set out and a desire to see,” he said.

The Pope’s message was released on Jan. 23, on the eve of the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of journalists.

With the theme “Come and See: Communicating by Encountering People Where and as They Are,” World Communication Day is celebrated on Ascension Sunday.

Established by Pope Paul VI in 1967, it aims to encourage the faithful to put media and communication at the service of the gospel. Ma. Alena O. Castillo and Sophia T. Sadang



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