While the church is not always on the same side as science, Pope Francis has spoken out strongly against vaccine misinformation and fake news about the Covid19 previous. In a statement Friday, he condemned any news source, including Catholic news media, that perpetuated misinformation about the pandemic, calling it a human rights violation.
Speaking to members of a group of Catholic media members behind the CatholicFactChecking.com website that fights misinformation, the Pope called it an infodemic, where people are driven by fear vent distorted or fabricated news and attempt to claim that false information is scientific.
“Being well informed, being helped to understand situations based on scientific data and not on fake news, is a human right. Correct information should be provided especially to those less equipped, to the weakest and to those most vulnerable. Fake news must be disproved, but individuals must always be respected, as they often believe it without full awareness or responsibility.
The condemnation of those who spread fake news and misinformation about the Covid19 pandemic and the life-saving vaccines comes mainly from the Pope, the leader of the Catholic Church. Right-wing Catholic websites, blogs and media are among the most ardent disseminators of misinformation about Covid19, and many have been banned from social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook for repeatedly perpetuating falsehoods.
One of Pope Francis’ biggest opponents is Italian Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, who demanded the pope’s resignation three years ago and has been in hiding ever since. He has denied the pandemic’s existence while also calling it the work of Satan, claiming that the Covid19 virus was a laboratory creation used as a tool “to erase all traces of our identity as Christians” as part of a secret global conspiracy. The archbishop has been regularly invited to spread his conspiracy theories in far-right Catholic media shows.
This is the second time this month that the Pope has addressed the Covid19 pandemic, having previously spoken out strongly in favour of national vaccination campaigns, calling it a moral imperative. In a statement 3 weeks ago, he warned those who support vaccine misinformation on ideological terms, calling their views “baseless”.
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