Pope Francis calls Covid-19 fake news a violation of human rights

FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis said vaccine and Covid-19 fake news is a human rights violation.

While the church hasn’t always been on the same side as science, Pope Francis spoke out strongly against vaccine disinformation and Covid-19 fake news. In a statement Friday, he condemned any news source, including Catholic news media, that perpetuated misinformation about the pandemic, calling it a violation of human rights.

In a talk with members of a group of Catholic media members behind the website CatholicFactChecking.com which combats misleading information, the Pope called it an infodemic, where people driven by fear peddle distorted or made-up news and try to claim false information is scientific.

“To be properly informed, to be helped to understand situations based on scientific data and not fake news, is a human right. Correct information must be ensured above all to those who are less equipped, to the weakest and to those who are most vulnerable. Fake news has to be refuted, but individual persons must always be respected, for they believe it often without full awareness or responsibility.”

The condemnation of those spreading fake news and misinformation about the Covid-19 pandemic and the life-saving vaccines is especially poignant coming from the Pope, the leader of the Catholic Church. Right-wing Catholic websites, blogs, and media outlets have been amongst the most fervent spreaders of misinformation about Covid-19, with many being banned from social media sites like Twitter and Facebook for repeatedly perpetuating falsehoods.

One of Pope Francis’s biggest detractors is Italian Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, who demanded the pope’s resignation 3 years ago and has been in hiding ever since. He has denied the existence of the pandemic while also calling it the work of Satan as well as claiming the Covid-19 virus was a lab creation that was used as a tool “to erase all traces of our identity as Christians” as part of a secret global plot. The Archbishop has been invited regularly to espouse his conspiracy theories on far-right Catholic media shows.

This is the second time this month that the Pope has addressed the Covid-19 pandemic as he previously came out in strong support of national vaccination drives calling it a moral obligation. In a statement 3 weeks ago, he admonished those who support vaccine misinformation on ideological terms, calling their stances “baseless”.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.