During a speech to 400 Italian journalists, Pope Francis urged journalists not to stoke fear of migration and said that journalism, when based on rumors, can be a form of terrorism, meaning a “weapon of destruction” of both people and nations.
“I have often spoken of rumors as ‘terrorism,’ of how you can kill a person with the tongue,” Francis said. “If this is valid for an individual person, in the family or at work, so much more it’s valid for journalists, because their voice can reach everyone, and this is a very powerful weapon,” he added.
Criticism, the pope continued, is legitimate, as well as the “denunciation of evil, but this must always be done respecting the other, his life, his affections,” because an article is replaced from one day to the other, but the life of a person “unjustly defamed can be destroyed forever.”
What affections is the pope referring to? That could certainly include his family, political or religious affections. Francis suggested that journalism should restrain itself from offending the affections of others.
Pope Francis is apparently concerned that since journalism can spin a story one way or the other, it is possible to spin news stories against Vatican priorities, or in a negative way toward the Catholic Church.
“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.
At the same time, Pope Francis urged the journalists to not attach themselves to either economic or political ideologies. “It’s important to always reflect on the fact that, across history, dictatorships- of any orientation or ‘color’- have always tried to not only undertake the media, but also to impose new rules to the profession,” he said.
Closing his remarks, the pope called journalists to be an “instrument of construction,” factors in the common good, capable of avoiding the temptation of fomenting confrontation and instead promoters of a “culture of encounter.”
In other words, the pope urged journalists to restrain themselves and support the Roman Catholic concept of the common good. Pope Francis, the master of spin, attempted to get journalists to spin their stories so that they do not conflict with papal principles.
For Rome to ever rise to become queen of the world, she must bring journalism and the press under her influence and even control.
“How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.” Revelation 18:7.