Pope Francis told the National Council Order of Journalists that journalism that simply peddles gossip or rumors is a form of “terrorism.”
Surrounded by Italian journalists, the Pope warned on Thursday that when journalist base everything on rumors or with the intent to stir up fear in the public, it is just another “form of terrorism” and a “weapon of destruction” being used against both people and nations.
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Pope Francis reminded the audience “how it is possible to kill someone with tongue” — and said, “This applies to individual people — in the family or at work — but even more so to journalists because their voice can reach everyone, and this is a very powerful weapon.”
He continued addressing the media, “Journalism must always respect the dignity of the person,” he continued. “Journalism cannot be a weapon for the destruction of people or even populations. Nor must it fuel fears in relation to changes or phenomena such as forced migration due to hunger or war.”
Francis used a concept he’s used before when talking to priests when he reminded them that not everything in life is black or white.
“Even in journalism, it’s necessary to discern between the shades of gray of the events being told,” he said, particularly when it’s about topics such as politics or war, that are rarely the result of clear dynamics.”
According to a transcript released by the Holy See’s press office, Pope Francis offered three charges to the journalists at the event: live with professionalism, respect human dignity and love the truth.
“I hope that increasingly and everywhere journalism may be a tool for construction, a factor of the common good and for the acceleration of processes of reconciliation; that it may be able to resist the temptation to foment confrontation, with a language that stokes the flames of division, instead of favoring a culture of encounter,” Francis said.
Pope Francis then concluded his address with one final piece of advice to the reporters: “You journalists can remind everyone every day that there is no conflict that cannot be resolved by women and men of goodwill.”